R.W. Hebard was an American businessman who was very busy handling many
construction jobs in Panama around this time. In 1910 in association with
some other individuals, he was contracted by the Isthmian Canal Commission to
dig part of the Panama Canal. His firm excavated 250,000 cubic yards in the
Barbacoas and Bohio sections of the canal, and made a very good impression
on the ICC and local authorities. From April 1912 to June 1913 R.W. Hebard
and Company built the Panama Electric Tramway. This was the trolley system
in Panama City which operated as public transportation for a number of years.
In 1913 R.W. Hebard contracted to build a power plant to provide electricity
for the tramway and for public lighting. The firm completed this 1250 k.w.
steam turbine power plant in 1916. R.W. Hebard also built many buildings.
These included the Hamburg American Line office building at Cristobal, the Palacio de Artes,
the Palacio de Gobierno at Panama, the Republic of Cuba legation building,
the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's office building and a number of reinforced
concrete buildings in Colon.
His efforts were not limited to Panama. R.W. Hebard and Company was also contracted
by the government of Nicaragua to do an engineering study of what it would
take to run water and sewer lines in the capital city of Managua.
To better finance all this work, R.W. Hebard and Company incorporated in the
state of Delaware in 1913, and the company's name became R.W. Hebard and Company, Inc.
The government of Panama entered into a contract with R.W. Hebard and Company
in February of 1914 to build the Chiriqui Railroad.
This railroad had 60 miles of 36" gauge track. It ran from Pedregral (the port of
David, capital of Chiriqui) to the town of Boquete, and had branches to the towns
of La Conception and Potrerillos. Boquete, Potrerillos and La Conception are
rich agricultural centers. The work included a 410 foot suspension bridge
over the Chiriqui River, 175 miles of telephone and telegraph lines, and the
dock at Pedregral. Construction started in April of 1914 and was completed in
April of 1916, ahead of schedule.
The Boquete to David portion of the railroad is known to have operated until 1949
(I do not know about the other branches).
At that time, an automobile road was opened between David and Boquete. The bus
service was faster and more efficient than the train, and the railroad service
was discontinued almost immediately. The tracks were removed around 1952.