PCRC restores iconic coach for zoo and botanical gardens

Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 10:40

On September 18, an inauguration ceremony was held at Panama’s Summit National Zoo and Botanical Gardens, celebrating the Panama Canal Railway Company’s (PCRC) restoration of an original Panama Railroad passenger coach.  The event coincided with the birthday of the Harpy Eagle, Panama’s national symbol.  More than 6,000 people were in attendance, including Panama’s mayor and the local media.  As part of the celebration, PCRC exhibited maintenance of way and hi-rail equipment and distributed public safety material to children.  

Originally built in the 1920’s by the Pullman Car Company, the passenger coach provided daily service for the Panama Railroad during the 20th century.  The car was abandoned in the late 1980’s, and found its way to the zoo and botanical gardens, where it has served as a visitor attraction, albeit in a dilapidated condition.

Upon discovering the car’s condition, the PCRC team was determined to salvage this iconic relic and provide visitors a memorable experience.  With approval from the Panama City Mayor’s Office and zoo management, PCRC began a two-month project to restore the coach, which serves to educate, inform and intrigue the public as to Panama’s rich history and the railroad’s significant place in it.

The restoration work was spearheaded by PCRC Car department manager Rene Luque.  The restoration project included a picnic area with PCRC-themed tables and benches, a decorated platform specially-designed for photo ops, and a plaque detailing the history of PCRC, including the awarding of the concession and PCRC rebuilding by partners KCS and Mi-Jack Products.