Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Panama Railroad For Western Wednesday...!

Now even though this story doesn't take place in the American West, it was close enough to the time frame and had a large enough influence on actions of the times to be listed on western Wednesday.

The whole story is a bit horrific, but almost understandable. I bet that most of us never heard of this from our history classes in school! I know I didn't!

Pickled Corpses

A half century before the Panama Canal was constructed, a railway was built to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The chief inspiration for this project was the California Gold Rush of 1849 and the mad rush to stake a claim to fortune. Men came from across the globe to work on the railway, many without any identification or known next of kin.

This feat of engineering would come at great cost to many—diseases like yellow fever, malaria, and cholera plagued the workers, and thousands died. A ban on opium caused many of the Chinese workers, who had become addicted to the drug in their homeland, to commit suicide. No official records were kept, but the death toll could have easily exceeded 10,000.

It might seem natural that the Panama Railroad Company would simply bury their dead and move on, but they had other plans. Keeping their eye on the bottom line, they pickled many of the corpses and sold them off to medical schools for experimentation. It was an exciting time in medicine—anesthesia had just been discovered, and surgeries, which had previously been hack jobs performed as swiftly as possible, became far more intricate. Bodies were in high demand, and for over five years, the Panama Railroad Company was a leading supplier.

If you want to read more about the Panama Railroad, you can do so right here! Just a tad unsettling, wouldn't you say?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Still in the 40's outside.


Mamahen said...

Wow....that's just crazy to think about. Never thought abound where they got bodies to experiment with in the early days of medicine....Cold again here 13, 9 witu wind chill.....I think some hot oatmeal sounds good...Anyone want some?

Sixbears said...

Horrible that a company will profit off of dead workers . . . oh wait, didn't Walmart buy life insurance policies on their workers that the company collected on?

Not nearly as grim, but still all about death and the bottom line.

linda m said...

I know the medical field needed bodies for their students to practice on. But it still seems rather gruesome to hear about it. It is sick that the company would make a profit off of selling the bodies. Still cold here; not as bad as the last 2 days. Hot oatmeal sure sounds good tho.

Chickenmom said...

Wow! Don't think I'll use THAT story for my Friday Night Steam!! 11 here, but the wind has died down, so it's not too bad. I'll bring some raisins to add to the oatmeal.

JO said...

They were right on top with the body snatchers.

We are at 38 this morning guy coming soon to turn on furnace, this way it will warm up again for sure.

Dizzy-Dick said...

At least their deaths may have contributed to some medical advances.

HermitJim said...

Hey Mamahen...
I don't think many of us ever stopped to consider where they came from.

Oatmeal sounds good to me!

Thanks for stopping in this morning!

Hey Sixbears...
Wouldn't surprise me at all!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Linda M...
Not exactly something we like o think about!

Still sounds pretty cold to me!

Thanks for dropping in today!

Hey Phyllis...
It is sorta gruesome, isn't it? Necessary in a way, I reckon!

Thanks for the visit this morning!

Hey Jo...
At least they were creative.

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over today!

Hey Dizzy...
Let's hope that was the case! It beats robbing graves, I guess!

Thanks for coming over today!