American Forts: East

PANAMA CANAL ZONE

Fort Amador | Fort Bruja | Bruja Point Res. | Fort Clayton | Fort Davis | Fort DeLesseps
Camp Elliott | Empire Camp | Fort Espinar | Camp Gaillard | Camp Gatun | Fuerte El Gatún
Fort Grant | Fort Gulick | Fort Kobbe | Camp Otis | Quarry Heights Res. | Fort Randolph
Rodman Marine Barracks | Fort Sherman | Spanish Trenchworks
Castillo de (Fort) San Lorenzo

MILITARY HISTORY OF THE CANAL ZONE
U.S. MILITARY BASES IN PANAMA
CZ BRATS
DINO'S PANAMA PHOTOS

Last Update: 11/MAY/2011
Compiled by Pete Payette - ©2011 American Forts Network

NOTE: Panama gained independence from Colombia in 1903, and became a U.S. Protectorate from 1903 to 1936. The Panama Canal Zone Territory was formally established by the United States in 1904 by Panamanian cession. The American Canal Zone civilian government ceased to exist as such on October 1, 1979, however, the U.S. Army did not turn over control of the territory to Panama until 1990 (not including canal operations or some of the bases). All remaining bases were closed as of August 1, 1999, and the official transfer of the canal occurred on December 31, 1999.

¤ HARBOR DEFENSES of BALBOA (Pacific entrance)

¤ Fort Amador
(1911 - 1979/1996), Balboa
Originally considered the mainland portion of Fort Grant until 1917. Formerly Headquarters U.S. Army, Southern Command and U.S. Naval Forces, Southern Command. Most of the post was turned over to Panama in 1979 and became headquarters of the Panamanian Defense Force until 1989. Portions of the post remained under American control until 1996. Coastal defense batteries were Battery Birney (6-inch DC) and Battery Smith (6-inch DC) (both 1913 - 1943 and buried), and also AMTB Battery 7A (90mm) (1942 - 1948, buried). Most original military buildings were demolished by 2000 for new commercial development.

Near Balboa Heights was Quarry Heights Military Reservation (1916 - 1997), with an underground joint Army/Navy command bunker/tunnel complex on Ancon Hill.
December 1989 Operation JUST CAUSE Photos from U.S. Army Center for Military History

¤ Fort Kobbe
(1918 - 1999), Pao Santo
Known as Bruja Point Military Reservation until 1928, then named Fort Bruja until 1932. Located on the opposite side of the canal entrance from Fort Amador. It was a subpost of Fort Amador until 1941, and again after 1946. Battery Murray (16-inch) (1924 - 1948, casemated 1942) was near Bruja Point. Battery Haan (16-inch) (1928 - 1948) is buried on Batele Point. There was also AMTB Battery 6 (90mm) (1942 - 1948) gunblocks still exist on Batele Point, Battery 3 and Battery Z (3A) (four 155mm on Panama mounts, still exists) on Bruja Point, and Battery AZ (1917 - 1946) (two fixed 4.7-inch, replaced by two 75mm in 1919, gunblocks still exist) (two mobile 75mm) on Bruja Point. Howard Army Airfield was established in 1937 on the northern portion of the reservation, originally known as Bruja Point Field. It became a separate post in 1946, becoming Howard Air Force Base in 1947. The former military post is now the Panamanian international business park and mixed-use residential community of "Panama Pacifico", with the former garrison area now the "Town Center".
Kobbe Kid Album 1959 - 1962 by Gary Lee Strong
Brief History of Fort Kobbe and Howard Air Force Base from International School of Medical Sciences

¤ Fort Grant
(1911 - 1979), near Balboa
Located entirely on the four "Fortified Islands", connected by a causeway to Fort Amador. Batteries on Naos Island are Battery Buell and Battery Burnside (both 14-inch DC) (both 1912 - 1948), and Battery Parke (6-inch DC) (1912 - 1946). Also here was Battery 23 (three 3-inch AA) (1920's) and Battery AX (two mobile 75mm). Battery AY (four mobile 75mm) was located on the causeway to Fort Amador. Batteries on Flamenco Island are Battery Warren (14-inch DC) (1912 - 1948, partially filled in), later used as a HAWK air defense missile platform (1960 - 1970), Battery U (10A) (two 155mm on Panama mounts, buried), Battery T (two 155mm on Panama mounts, buried), the combined mortar batteries of Battery Prince, Battery Merrit, and Battery Carr (all 1912 - 1943). Batteries on Culebra Island are Battery 8 (two 14-inch railway guns) (1929 - 1946), and Battery V (10B) (two 155mm on Panama mounts, still exist). Two mobile 75mm beach defense guns (Battery AW) were also emplaced here. Battery Newton (Battery 9 ?) (16-inch DC transferred from Sandy Hook, NJ) (1915 - 1943, partially filled in) and Battery AV (two mobile 75mm) were on Perico Island. Also on Perico Island were two 105mm AA guns (1930's). Fort Grant was turned over to Panama in 1979. Naos Island was used by the Panamanian military until 1989. Flamenco Island was used as a prison until 1989, now controlled by the Panamanian Coast Guard. Culebra Island is now owned by the Smithsonian Institution for tropical marine studies.

¤ ALSO: Additional Pacific batteries: Battery W (1B) (four 155mm on Panama mounts, still exists) and Battery 2B on Taboquilla Island, Battery X (two 155mm on Panama mounts, still exists) on Urava Island, Battery Y (1A) (two 155mm on Panama mounts, still exists) on Taboga Island, a four-gun 155mm battery (mounts buried) on Paitilla Point, and Battery AU (1917 - 1946) (two fixed 4.7-inch, replaced by two 75mm in 1919, gunblocks buried) (four mobile 75mm) on Paitilla Point. There were 14 searchlight positions (Venado Island, Bruja Point, Taboga Island (2), Taboguilla Island (2), Naos Island (2), Flamenco Island (2), San Jose Rock, Perico Island, and Paitilla Point (2)). The harbor minefield consisted of 16 groups of 19 bouyant mines each during WWI, and 26 groups of 13 ground mines each, with hydrophones, during WWII, controlled by the mine casemates on Naos and Flamenco Islands at Fort Grant. There were numerous fire-control observation stations, many still exist. During WWII an underground bunker complex was built for the Panama AA Defense Command (Balboa) (location ?), and an underground Emergency Joint Command Post was built on Gordo Hill, located inland between Gamboa and Paraiso.


Spanish Trenchworks ?
(1750 ? - 1780's ?), Miraflores area
About 1750 the Spanish built several stone-walled trenches for defense against an overland attack on Panamá City. The trenchworks are still extant on Aguadulce Hill, just below the Miraflores Locks on the west bank of the Canal, and on Cedro Hill near Fort Clayton/Albrook AFB, north of Panamá City.

Fort Clayton
(1920 - 1999), near Miraflores
Located along the east side of the Canal at Miraflores Locks. It was used as Headquarters U.S. Army, Panama. The U.S. Embassy for Panama was relocated here in 2007.

Nearby was Albrook Air Force Base (1924 - 1997), originally known as Balboa Field until rebuilt and renamed in 1932. The Panama Air Depot was also here from 1931 - 1982, used by the Army's Quartermaster Corps and other commands.
December 1989 Operation JUST CAUSE Photos from U.S. Army Center for Military History

Rodman Marine Barracks
(1941 - 1998), near Lacona
Established on a portion of the Balboa Naval Ammunition Depot (1935), located below San Juan Hill, west of Bruja Road from Rodman U.S. Naval Station (1932 - 1999). In 1999 the Panama National Maritime Service took over the post, relocated from Flamenco Island.

Camp Otis
(1904 - 1917), Las Cascadas
A U.S. Marine camp at a former canal construction labor camp at the Gaillard (Culebra) Cut, turned over to the U.S. Army in 1911 as a temporary post. (see also Camp Otis History by William H. Ormsbee, Jr.

Other military camps nearby were Camp Gaillard (1914 - 1927) (originally USMC Camp Elliott (1904 - 1914)) near Bas Obispo; and Empire Camp (1914), a former canal construction labor camp.

Fort Davis
(1919 - 1995), Gatún
Located near the Gatun Locks. Originally called Camp Gatun.

Fuerte El Gatún ?
(1750 ? - 1780's ?), (Old) Gatún
A small Spanish outpost at the confluence of the Gatún and Chagres rivers, located on a hill about 120 feet above the Chagres River, overlooking the old town. This was probably one of several posts located along the trans-isthmian trade route between Panamá City and Chagres. Another post may have been located upriver at Cruces. The old town was relocated in 1908 before construction of the Gatun Dam commenced, completed in 1913 creating Gatun Lake. The fort site is submerged under the lake.

Located on nearby Gatún Hill are six extant stone-walled trenches built by the Spanish about 1750, totaling about 700 meters in length, providing a land defense for Fort Gatún and also providing a clear view of the Chagres River and Limón Bay.

Fort Gulick
(1941 - 1995), near Margarita
Located near Gatun Lake northeast of Fort Davis. Home of the U.S. Army's School of the Americas from 1949 - 1984. A portion of the reservation was transferred to Panama in 1984, and renamed Fort Espinar. Reoccupied by U.S. forces from 1989 - 1995.


¤¤ HARBOR DEFENSES of CRISTOBAL (Atlantic / Caribbean entrance)

¤¤ Fort Randolph
(1911 - 1979), Margarita Island
Located near Coco Solo. Batteries here are Battery Webb (14-inch DC) (1914 - 1948), Battery 1 (two 14-inch railway guns) (1928 - 1946, partially destroyed), the combined mortar batteries Battery Tidball (1912 - 1943) and Battery Zalinski (1912 - 1943), Battery Weed (6-inch DC) (1912 - 1946), Battery X (4A) (four 155mm on Panama mounts) (1940, still exists), Battery 2C, Battery 5A, and Battery AW (1915 - 1946) (two 4.7-inch, replaced with two 75mm in 1919, gunblocks remain). Four 75mm beach defense guns (1930's) were emplaced adjacent to Battery Weed. An industrial park and private resort are now under development. AA Battery 5 (three 3-inch AA) (1930's) was located on the mainland east of Margarita Island.

Nearby was the Galeta Island Naval Radio Facility (1952 - 1995), and the Coco Solo Naval Station (1919 - 1979). The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute established the Galeta Point Marine Laboratory in 1964.

¤¤ Fort Sherman
(Fort Sherman History)
(1911 - 1953/1999), near Colón
Located across the harbor from Cristóbal at the entrance to Limon Bay. Batteries located on Toro Point are Battery Mower (14-inch DC) (1912 - 1948) and Battery Stanley (14-inch DC) (1912 - 1948), the combined mortar batteries Battery Howard (1913 - 1943) and Battery Baird (1913 - 1943), and Battery W (four 155mm on Panama mounts) (1940, buried) adjacent to the lighthouse. Four mobile 75mm beach defense guns were also at the lighthouse (Battery AU and Battery AV). Battery 151 (casemated 16-inch) was never built, although several gun tubes were delivered. Located on Shelter Point are Battery Kilpatrick (6-inch DC) (1915 - 1946) and AMTB Battery 3C (90mm) (1942 - 1948, gunblocks remain). Battery Kilpatrick was converted to a reptile zoo in the 1950's. On Iglesia Point near the Chagres River are Battery Pratt (originally Chagres Battery #1) (12-inch BC) (1916 - 1948, casemated 1942), Battery Mackenzie (originally Chagres Battery #2) (14-inch BC) (1916 - 1948), and Battery AS (1915 - 1946) (two 4.7-inch, replaced with two 75mm in 1919, gunblocks remain). Battery Pratt was later converted as the alternate command post for Headquarters, U.S. Southern Command. Also here was AA Battery 1 and AA Battery 2 (three 3-inch AA each) (1930's). On Brujas Island was Battery AT (1915 - 1946) (two 4.7-inch, replaced by two 75mm in 1919, gunblocks remain). The reservation became the U.S. Army's Jungle Operations Training Center after 1953. HAWK air defense missiles were emplaced on the post from 1960 - 1968.

¤¤ Fort DeLesseps
(1911 - 1955), Colón
Located on Manzanillo Island adjacent to the Hotel Washington. Batteries here are Battery Morgan (6-inch BC) (1914 - 1948) which still exists, and Anti Motor Torpedo Boat Battery 3B (90mm) (1942 - 1948) on the Cristobal Mole, whch has been built over. AA Battery 4 (two 3-inch AA) (1930's) was also located on the Cristobal Mole. See also Fort Delesseps History by William H. Ormsbee, Jr.

¤¤ ALSO: Additional Atlantic batteries: Battery U (four 155mm on Panama mounts) (1930's, still exists) and Battery AR (two mobile 75mm) (1919 - 1946) on Tortuguilla Point, Battery V (four 155mm on Panama mounts) (1940) on Naranjitos Point (still exists), Battery Y (four 155mm on Panama mounts) (1940) (still exists), and Battery AX (1915 - 1946) (two 4.7-inch, replaced by two 75mm in 1919, buried) on Palma Media Island, Battery Z (1A) (four 155mm on Panama mounts) (1940, now in surf), Battery 1B, and Battery AY (1915 - 1946) (two 4.7-inch, replaced by two 75mm in 1919, gunblocks remain) on Galeta Island, and Battery AZ (1915 - 1946) (two 4.7-inch, replaced with two 75mm in 1919, gunblocks remain) on Largo Remo Island. There were ten searchlight positions (Largo Remo Island, Galeta Island (2), Fort Randolph, Cristobal Mole, Toro Point, Fort Sherman, Naranjitos Point, and Tortuguilla Point (2)). The harbor minefield consisted of 15 groups of 19 bouyant mines each in WWI; and 26 groups of 13 ground mines each (with hydrophones) in WWII, controlled by the mine casemates at Shelter Cove - Fort Sherman, and at Fort Randolph. There were numerous fire-control observation stations, many still exist. During WWII an underground bunker complex was built for the Panama AA Defense Command (Cristobal) (location ?). France Army Airfield (1918 - 1949) was located north of Majagual, overlooking Colón Bay, now Jiménez Airport.


San Lorenzo Castle ?
(1595 - 1770), Chagres
Located on the Caribbean coast at the entrance to the Chagres River. Formally known as Castillo de San Lorenzo de Chagres, or Fort San Lorenzo. This area was first fortified in 1575. The fortress took 30 years to complete in its original form. It was built on a bluff at the mouth of the river, surrounded on all sides with palisades and wooden and earthen ramparts, with four bastions on the landward side, and two bastions facing the sea. Attacked by English pirates under Henry Morgan in 1671, who blew up the powder magazine killing most of the garrison. Rebuilt with stone in 1680. Attacked by English naval forces in 1740 and demolished. Rebuilt in 1761. The fort was not used by Colombia after independence from Spain. The site became a Panamanian National Monument in 1908, but fell within the boundary of Fort Sherman in 1911. It was transferred back to Panama in 1979. During World War II an American searchlight position and several 3-inch anti-aircraft guns were set up here to defend against possible German U-boat attacks up the Chagres River to Gatun Dam. Battery AQ (1915 - 1946) (two 4.7-inch, replaced with two 75mm in 1919, gunblocks remain) was also located here. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fort San Lorenzo from Panama Living.com


NOTES: In 1918 there were only seven 3-inch AA guns in fixed emplacements, and one 3-inch AA gun mounted on a railcar. Four additional 3-inch AA guns were sent in 1918 and emplaced at the Gatun Dam. In 1919 there were 42 surplus 75mm field guns and 46 surplus 155mm guns sent to the Canal Zone. Those not emplaced for beach defense were allocated to the mobile infantry forces. In 1920 there were 36 3-inch AA guns allocated to the Canal Zone. In 1931 there were 15 fixed three-gun 3-inch AA batteries in various locations, and one three-gun 3-inch AA battery mounted on railcars. In 1939 there were 12 105mm AA guns and 71 3-inch AA guns reported emplaced in various locations throughout the territory, with additional gun sites added after 1942. During the Cold War (1950 - 1960) there were several 90mm and 120mm AA gun sites. Due to lack of information, these AA gun sites are not included on this page at this time.

HAWK air defense missile batteries replaced all AA gun batteries in 1960, and were in service until deactivated in 1970. Please see also 4th Battalion 517th Air Defense Artillery 1957-1970 by Bill Cole

Gun battery information gathered from "The American Defences of the Panama Canal", by Terrance McGovern, 1999, Nearhos Publications; and from "The Fortifications of the Panama Canal", by Hugh Gardner and Norman Carpenter, 1965, Historical Branch, Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces Southern Command, as transcribed by Bill Cole, 2002.


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