Goethals, George W. (George Washington), 1858-1928

Alternative names
Birth 1858-06-29
Death 1928-01-21

Biographical notes:

Born in 1858 in Brooklyn, New York, Goethals graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1880. Goethals was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1907 when he was appointed chief engineer for the construction of the Panama Canal.. Under his management construction was completed in 1914, about one year early.

From the guide to the George Washington Goethals Letter MSS. 0575., 1918 March 27, (University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama)

Army engineer and constructor of the Panama Canal Zone.

From the description of Letter, 1918. (Boston Athenaeum). WorldCat record id: 41418136

American Army officer and engineer, who was chief engineer on the construction of the Panama Canal (1907-1914) and later became governor of the Canal Zone (1914-1917). During World War I he worked in the Quartermaster's Dept.

From the description of George Washington Goethals microfilm collection, 1901-1915 [microform]. 1970. (US Army, Mil Hist Institute). WorldCat record id: 22740075

Governor of the Canal Zone, army officer, and engineer.

From the description of Papers of George W. Goethals, circa 1890-1929. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71067689


Goethals was an alumnus of City College, Class of 1877.

From the description of Papers, 1913-1928. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155502756

Biographical Note

  • 1858, 29 June: Born, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • 1880: Graduated, United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
  • 1880 - 1882 : Student officer, Engineering School of Application, Willetts Point, N.Y.
  • 1882 - 1884 : Engineer officer, Department of Columbia
  • 1884: Married Effie Rodman
  • 1884 - 1885 : Engineer officer, improvements on the Ohio River for navigation
  • 1885 - 1889 : Instructor and assistant professor of civil and military engineering, United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
  • 1889 - 1894 : Engineer officer, improvements on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, and in charge of completion of the Muscle Shoals Canal and construction of the Colbert Shoals Lock
  • 1894 - 1898 : Assistant to chief of engineers, United States Army
  • 1898: Chief engineer, First United States Army Corps, and campaign in Puerto Rico
  • 1898 - 1900 : Professor of practical military engineering, United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
  • 1900 - 1905 : Engineer officer in charge of river and harbor works, Bolck Island to Nantucket, and the fortifications of Narragansett Bay and New Bedford, Mass.
  • 1903 - 1907 : Member, General Staff, United States Army
  • 1905: Graduated, United States Army War College Accompanied Secretary of War William H. Taft on an inspection trip to the Isthmus of Panama
  • 1907: Promoted to lieutenant colonel, United States Army Appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as chairman and chief engineer, Isthmian Canal Commission
  • 1907 - 1914 : Chief engineer, construction of the Panama Canal
  • 1909: Promoted to colonel, United States Army
  • 1911: Appointed member of a Joint Board of Officers of the Army and Navy to make a report upon defenses for the Panama Canal
  • 1914 - 1917 : Governor, Panama Canal Zone
  • 1915: Promoted to major general, United States Army
  • 1916: Chairman of the board appointed to report on the Adamson Eight-Hour Law
  • 1917: General manager, United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corp. Acting quartermaster general, United States Army
  • 1918: Chief, Division of Storage and Traffic of the General Staff, United States Army Chief, Division of Purchase, Storage and Traffic United States Army
  • 1918: Awarded Distinguished Service Medal for meritorious service in reorganizing the Quartermaster Department, United States Army
  • 1919 - 1923 : President and head engineer, George W. Goethals and Co., New York, N.Y.
  • 1923: Fuel administrator of New York during Anthracite coal strike
  • 1923 - 1928 : Consulting engineer on projects such as Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, New Orleans, La.; Columbia Basin Irrigation Project; East Bay Municipal Utility District of Oakland, Calif; and Lake Worth Inlet District in Florida. Served New York-Jersey Port and Harbor Commission (later Port of New York Authority) as chief consulting engineer
  • 1928, Jan. 21: Died, New York, N.Y.

From the guide to the George W. Goethals Papers, 1890-1954, (bulk 1907-1927), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)


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Ark ID:


  • Canals--Panama
  • Immigration and American Expansion
  • Labor laws and legislation--United States
  • Merchant marine--United States
  • Politics and government
  • Railroads--Employees
  • War and Military
  • Strikes and lockouts--Pennsylvania
  • Government, Law and Politics
  • Fuel trade--United States
  • Eight-hour movement--United States
  • Canals
  • Anthracite Coal Strike, Pa., 1922


  • Army officers
  • Engineers
  • Governors--Canal Zone


  • Panama Canal (Panama) (as recorded)
  • Panama (as recorded)
  • Panama Canal (Panama) (as recorded)
  • Panama Canal (Panama) (as recorded)
  • Panama Canal (Panama) (as recorded)
  • Panama Canal (Panama) (as recorded)
  • Canal Zone (as recorded)
  • Panama Canal (Panama) (as recorded)
  • Canal Zone (as recorded)
  • Latin America (as recorded)
  • Panama Canal (Panama) (as recorded)