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David du Bose Gaillard

David du Bose Gaillard (September 4, 1859 – December 5, 1913) was a U.S. Army engineer instrumental in the construction of the Panama Canal.


Lieutenant Colonel David DuBose Gaillard was born in Fulton Crossroads, South Carolina, which is located in what is now the Manchester State Forest near Sumter. Gaillard graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1884. After graduation from West Point and promotion to first lieutenant in 1887, he married Katherine Ross Davis. The couple had one child, David St. Pierre Gaillard. By 1903 he was a captain in the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1908 Gaillard was placed in charge of construction of the central portion of the Panama Canal, crossing the continental divide. He was in charge of the notorious Culebra Cut through the backbone of the isthmus. Men who worked with him said he gave 12 hours every day to the Culebra Cut, besides which, he took his share in the labor of general administration of the Canal Zone. He checked up expenses, even on small things and once it was computed he had saved the Government $17,000,000.

Gaillard succeeded in his mission, but did not live to see the job finished. He returned to the US suffering from what was thought to be nervous exhaustion brought on by overwork and died of a brain tumor on December 5, 1913, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, months before the canal's completion. He was 54 years old. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The Panama Canal opened nine months after his death.[1] During the years of the US Canal Zone (c. 1915–2000), the Culebra Cut in the Panama Canal bore his name in his memory.[2]


Gaillard married Katherine Ross Davis at Winnsboro on October 6, 1887.[1] She accompanied him to Panama and while there collected plant specimens for the United States National Herbarium.[3] While in Panama she was also an orchid collector.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "David DuBose Gaillard". Skagway Stories. Skagit River Journal. 2011-12-05.  (Copy of a 1903 New York Times article)
  2. "David DuBoise Gaillard, class of 1884". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
  3. Rose, Joseph Nelson (c. 1917). "Rose. Cacti, 1909 - 1917". 
  4. Richard, Eunice (May 1970). "Orcids". pp. 19–21. 

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