The Gaillard Memorial Plaque in the '' - Panama Canal
...this 1 ton bronze plaque was later removed from its rocky ledge in the 'Cut'.....to the bottom of the Administration Building steps in Balboa, when the 'Cut' was widened for the second time.
The bronze tablet is dedicated to the memory of Lt. Col. David DuBose Gaillard, head engineer of the Central Division, which carried out excavation of the Cut from July 1908 to July 1913.
Many were killed and injured in accidents during the building of the canal and the Gaillard Cut, including the premature detonation of explosives.
Making a cut through the continental divide in Panama had been an impossible task for the French in the previous century but Gaillard, who had been promoted to lieutenant colonel in April 1909, completed the seemingly insurmountable task with the help of his dedicated diggers. The cut was filled with water, and the Panama Canal opened nearly a year later -- on August 15, 1914 -- six months ahead of schedule.
But tragedy prevented Gaillard from seeing this great day. In 1913, following tremendous slides, he suddenly suffered what appeared to be a nervous breakdown and left the Isthmus never to return. A tumor was found in his brain, and after surgery and hospital treatment, he died in Baltimore on December 5, 1913.