The Cocoli Housing Community and the Third Set of Locks

From An American Legacy in Panama: A Brief History of the Department of Defense Installations and Properties, prepared for the United States Army South through the Directorate of Engineering and Housing, United States Army Garrison-Panama, by Graves+Klein, Architects, Engineers of Pensacola, Florida:

“By the time the Panama Canal was twenty-five years old, its interoceanic commerce capacity was becoming outgrown. In 1936, the Governor of the Panama Canal Zone was authorized by Congress to investigate a plan to modernize and increase the capacity of the Panama Canal. After cost estimates and plans were drawn, a report was submitted to Congress in 1939, and the Third Locks Project was approved.

The plan basically called for the construction of a ‘third flight of locks directly alongside the existing locks.’ Excavation to expand the Miraflores Locks was begun, as was the erection of two ‘construction cities’ – Diablo on the east bank and Cocoli on the west bank – in anticipation of the influx of laborers for the project.

The Third Locks Project was abandoned in 1942 (after spending $75,000,000 on the project) due to the more pressing demands on manpower and materials associated with the United States’ entry into World War II. Although studies were made and other plans were submitted following the conclusion of war, The Third Locks Project was never executed.

The Cocoli family housing community originally consisted of two housing communities, Cocoli Gold (for U.S. citizens) and Cocoli Silver (for non-U.S. citizens). The Panama Canal constructed these communities in preparation for the expanded housing demand associated with the Third Locks Project.

The U.S. Navy acquired the Cocoli Housing Community from the Panama Canal Company in 1951, at which time the area included 360 housing units ‘and other buildings, facilities, and utility systems.’ On July 1, 1965, the U.S. Army, whose housing requirements had increased, received Cocoli from the Navy. At the time of the transfer, the Cocoli Housing Community included 275 housing units ‘and other building.’ While documentation is unclear as to why the number of housing units decreased between the transfers, most likely termites and fire took their toll on the wood-frame buildings.”

See Also: Bids Submitted for Canal Expansion Excavation and Panama Canal Crossed by Over One Million Ships

Cocoli Housing Community / PHOTO An American Legacy in Panama

  5 comments for “The Cocoli Housing Community and the Third Set of Locks

  1. kyle e. kosik
    September 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Interesting, i was born in ancon in 1960 and left in the early 80’s, great read

  2. Christina Haynes
    January 15, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Hi my name is Christina Randolph-Haynes, I’m looking for any informantion that can lead me to my son. His name is Raul Moises Martinez, was adopted at the age of 2 by Vincent Martinez teacher in BHS and leave in Panama maybe until 1993 in the Diablo housing area, I belive my son went to Diablo elementary to, they probably also leave in Cocoli. He came to see me in Clevelandd OH 1993 and since then I don’t have any knowledge of his residence or to whom I can contact, any of his adopted relatives. Can you inform me how I can get information on the housing listing for that year and the resident information? Thanks

  3. Raul M. Martinez
    February 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    MOM!!! It’s Raul! One of my Dad’s friends saw your comment and contacted him. I spoke with him today and he gave me the name of the website where you left the comment.

    I have been trying to find you ever since I joined the military in 95. I’ve moved a around a bit, but currently live in San Diego, CA.

    Please contact me at any of the following email addresses: ——–private—————

    Hope to hear from you soon! Con amor… Raul

  4. Christina Haynes
    March 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Today I declared and enforced my testimony regarding the power of GOD! After searching for nearly 20 years I have finally found my son Raul Moises (Carretero) Martinez Sanchez.

    I want to thank personally everyone from The Panama Digest and everyone who somehow reach out and passed my first message or connected the dots or make any phone calls to anyone that knew my son’s adopted family and help us to be reunited.
    God Bless to all and thank you, without your website this miracle would not be possible.

    Christina Randolph-Haynes

  5. Raul M. Martinez
    March 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Dear Panama Digest,

    I would like to apologize for my follow up comment, as I interpreted your silence and lack of response to my emails as an unwillingness to help. You can understand my frustration after 16 years of trying to find my birth mother, and being so close to a reunion, but not having any success. I should have had more patience and faith, and wholheartedly appreciate you responding.

    I am elated, and terribly grateful that you have forwarded my information. My mother has since emailed me, and you are responsible for a reunion between lost family members. I hope that my previous comment will be disregarded. As innovative and immediate as technology is, it is not without its limitations, nor is its implementation indicative of a real person’s behavior or intentions.

    I do really enjoy your site, and albeit a relatively new reader, will faithfully continue to read, participate, and promote your content. Thank you so much for what you have done; it is a true representation of the Panamanian culture and spirit. I wish you all the best.

    Healthy regards,

    Raul Martinez

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