Colon is Panama’s second largest city after Panama City and is an extremely valuable port and commercial center for world trade. Colon is located near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal on the Northern side of the country.
Since its early start in the mid 1800’s, Colon has maintained its charm of a “steamy Caribbean port” where just about everything goes. Tourists describe the city as vibrant, pulsing and fascinating despite its apparent poverty.
Travel experts Lonely Planet say, “Colon Province is mostly undeveloped and virtually inaccessible, but steeped in a rich, accessible history”.
Colon Panama History
The city of Colon was originally built on the marshy Manzanillo Island by Americans working on the Panama Railroad. Without modern technology and health knowledge the island was notoriously known as being unsanitary with frequent outbreaks of yellow fever.
This changed when Colonel Gorgas took control of sanitation efforts during the construction of the Panama Canal and installed new waterworks and sewer systems, creating much healthier living.
Today Colon includes some of the former mainland Canal Zone towns such as Cristobal, Rainbow City and Margarita as well as Fort Gulick, a former US Army base.
At last count in 2000, Colon’s population was around 204,000 people. The city remains mostly free of tourists and unexploited by large hotel chains and restaurants. This allows visitors to enjoy the town in all its natural charm – including its bright turquoise Caribbean waters, beautiful beaches, local islands and historical sites such as the Railway Station.
Panama Canal Railway Station
In the early 1800’s the Isthmus of Panama was used as a natural way of moving from the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The land in the heart of Central America was still very underdeveloped and hostile, featuring plains, desert, mountains and inhospitable civilizations.
When the California gold rush started in 1848 the traffic through the Isthmus increased exponentially as men from the East Coast flocked to California cities like San Francisco. Something was needed to improve the movement of people through the Isthmus and the Panama Railroad was granted permission to excavate a railroad through Panama. With a grant for over 250,000 acres of land the Panama Railroad Company was incorporated on April 7, 1849.
During the years of building the railroad, the modern day city of Colon was founded on Manzanillo Island. This island was the perfect location to build docks for ships with supplies and machinery as it was above the high-tide mark. Businessmen came and set up shop along the railroad to make money off of workers and the town was formed. The original settlement wanted to name their town Aspinwall after the railroad founder. However the government of Colombia was adamant it be named after Christopher Colombus who originally discovered the land. Hence, the city of Colon officially came to be.
Panama Canal Free Trade Zone
Colon has become the main commercial distribution center in this part of the world. Colon is a sight to behold, as it keeps up with technology changes and has implemented the most modern structure and warehousing systems. In addition to its competitive location, Colon tries to stay ahead implementing modern technology to offer visiting ships the best services.
Colon has become the main commercial distribution center in its hemisphere. Colon is a sight to behold, as it keeps up with technology changes and has implemented the most modern structure and warehousing systems. In addition to its competitive location Colon tries to stay ahead of modern technology to offer ships the best services.
All inclusive Panama Vacations – Includes Colon
After visiting Panama City, fully escorted Panama Vacations by Caravan Tours take a trip to the city of Colon. The guided tour passes through the Free Trade Zone and the Panama Canal Railway Station.
Call 1-800-CARAVAN to reserve your space today!