1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chagres
CHAGRES, a village of the Republic of Panama, on the Atlantic coast of the Isthmus, at the mouth of the Chagres river, and about 8 m. W. of Colon. It has a harbour from 10 to 12 ft. deep, which is difficult to enter, however, on account of bars at its mouth. The port was discovered by Columbus in 1502, and was opened for traffic with Panama, on the Pacific coast, by way of the Chagres river, in the 16th century. With the decline of Porto Bello in the 18th century Chagres became the chief Atlantic port of the Isthmus, and was at the height of its importance during the great rush of gold-hunters across the Isthmus to California in 1849 and the years immediately following. With the completion of the Panama railway in 1855, however, travel was diverted to Colon, and Chagres soon became a village of miserable huts, with no evidence of its former importance. On a high rock at the mouth of the river stands the castle of Lorenzo, which was destroyed by Sir Henry Morgan when he captured the town in 1671, but was rebuilt soon afterwards by the Spaniards. Chagres was again captured in 1740 by British forces under Admiral Edward Vernon.