Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:12:23 AM EST
This is not a political topic! I'm trying to figure out the answer to what should be a pretty simple question: Did the French locomotives used in Panama in the 1880s during the initial canal construction burn coal or did they burn wood?
After the French canal project faltered, the equipment was stored in the hopes of selling it to a new investor. The new investors turned out to be American, but by the time they showed up, most of the old steam shovels and railroad equipment had rusted away. Some of the old engines and cars found their way to the bottom of Lake Gatun, and were recovered in 2000 and put on display.
What I'd like to find out is whether this type of engine is designed to burn wood or coal. According to the source of these pictures, the locomotives were built between 1882 - 1887 by the Belgian company La Societe Cockerill.
The underlying question is whether the Panama Railroad ran on local wood products, which might make sense in a jungle--if you can figure out how to get dry wood--or used imported coal. Here in the western U.S., local wood was used as fuel and most of the mountains near railroads and mining areas were stripped of trees. I'm curious as to whether there was any such activity in Panama during the days of steam...
Perhaps someone is familiar with French railroad engines who can help with this history?
Pictures very much appreicated from http://www.czimages.com/CZMemories/frtrain/ft13.htm