Excerpt: The location of the Chagres River and its role in history have long fascinated underwater archaelogist James Delgado.
“Panama’s only 48 miles wide, making it the narrowest spot in the Americas and with that river taking you nearly two thirds of the way across, the Chagres really was the original Panama Canal connecting people by boats to the Camino Royale which would then take them down to the Pacific and to Panama City.”
Today the Chagres is linked to the Panama Canal. Now rewind back to 1671. Captain Henry Morgan, a swashbuckling privateer, a.k.a pirate, was in the ‘hood. Morgan was commissioned by England to secure trade routes to the New World. But on this occasion he was on his way to burn and plunder the Spanish controled Panama City.
Excerpts: Archaeologists have recovered six cannons from the ships of Welsh privateer Henry Morgan, the first artifacts found in Panama to be linked to the man who remains a legend there, the team said Monday.
At the edge of the Lajas Reef, the team found what appeared to be a field of six cannons, all covered with layers of sedimentary rock that had built up over the centuries, said archaeologist James P. Delgado, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Maritime Heritage Program in Silver Spring, Md., and a co-leader of the team. The cannons seem to be from the 17th century and five are probably French.
…Morgan’s flagship “was a captured French vessel, and the mix [of cannons] is the type of thing one would expect for a privateer,” Delgado said. “These guys grabbed whatever they could get a hold of.”
Excerpts: As infamous Welsh privateer Henry Morgan approached the San Lorenzo Fort at the mouth of Panama’s Chagres River in 1671, several of his ships wrecked against the Lajas Reef, including Morgan’s flagship Satisfaction.
…The underwater archaeology team – led by James Delgado, Frederick Hanselmann and Dominique Rissolo – began its research in 2008 with funding from La Jolla, California’s Waitt Institute for Discovery and permission from Panama’s National Institute of Culture.
“What is down there is 500 years of human activity,” said Delgado, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Maritime Heritage Program, who explained that Morgan is just one part of the maritime cultural landscape the team has uncovered.
Excerpts: In the shallow waters surrounding Lajas Reef at the mouth of the Chagres River in Panama, a team of archaeologists has recovered cannons from the site where infamous privateer Captain Henry Morgan’s ships wrecked in 1671 while carrying Morgan and his men to raid Panama City. Six iron cannons recovered from the reef are now undergoing study and preservation treatment by Panamanian researchers in cooperation with a team that has been studying the Chagres River with the permission of Panama’s Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INAC).
…”The Rio Chagres was in many ways the original Panama Canal,” notes Dr. James Delgado, past president of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and now the Director of Maritime Heritage for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “For five centuries, following in the wake of Panama’s indigenous peoples, Spanish explorers, English freebooters, traders, gold seeking Yankees enroute to California, soldiers and citizens have used the river as a highway that nearly crosses the isthmus. As these cannons demonstrate, those centuries of human activity have left a tangible trace in the archaeological record which is an important part of Panama’s cultural patrimony as being of international significance and interest.”