Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/298

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294
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE LESSON OF CANAL ZONE SANITATION
By J. S. LANKFORD, M.D.
SAN ANTONIO, TEX.

WE have learned two great lessons in the construction of the Panama Canal. One is that with money, modern machinery and men who are healthy and happily situated there is hardly anything impossible in civil engineering and building. This matchless piece of work now nearing completion testifies to the constructive genius of man, and can not be studied at close range in all its colossal proportions without exciting wonder and admiration. It is impossible to get any adequate conception of its magnitude without personal investigation. The first impression is the unlimited audacity of man in ripping open the mountains, draining marshes and lakes, penetrating the jungles and impounding rushing rivers in an effort to throw two great oceans together. It is the greatest assault ever made upon nature; but the white man, brushing aside all obstacles and scorning danger, will Boon have finished this greatest of all monuments of marching civilization. It is impossible to escape a deep interest in the employees and their environment; in the systematic and effectual supervision of the material, the supplies and the work, and in the general progress that has been made. The bigness of it all and its possibilities in changing the commerce of the seas, the destiny of nations and the history of peoples appeals to the imagination as well as to sober thought.

But these things are soon lost sight of temporarily in the contemplation of the greater lesson which is as broad as the human family of the present and of the future, for it touches human suffering and sorrow, and human happiness—the lesson of sanitation and health. The unhealthiest section of the globe, so acknowledged by all the world, has been converted into the healthiest. Accurate and unbiased records and reports have demonstrated this repeatedly and conclusively. The land of the jungle where the mosquito sang her weird song of death unmolested for four hundred years vying with the germs of dysentery, typhoid fever and pneumonia in the destruction of human life; the country where death with grim terror reigned as king, queen and prime minister has yielded to modern methods of sanitation and has become the home of health and happiness, a plain fact almost approaching the miraculous.

It is a mistake to think this has been done under military power. It has been accomplished by the forceful and efficient efforts of a corps