Goethals, George Washington

Goethals, George Washington gōˈthəlz [key], 1858–1928, U.S. army engineer, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., grad. West Point, 1880. After serving on various inland water projects, he was appointed chief engineer of the Panama Canal when John F. Stevens resigned (1907). Goethals found the difficulty of the work increased by the climate, yellow fever, labor troubles, unexpected complications in building the locks, and crumbling substrata in the Culebra Cut. By taking intense personal interest in the men and expressing satisfaction in their individual achievements, he created an atmosphere of cooperation and completed the project ahead of schedule. He was governor of the Panama Canal Zone (1914–16). In World War I he was briefly (1917) general manager of the Emergency Fleet Corporation, then (Jan.–Apr., 1918) head of the Bureau of Purchase and Supplies, and finally assistant chief of staff in charge of supplies.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Civil Engineering: Biographies