city and port, north-central Panama. Founded in 1850 at the Atlantic (northern) terminus of the original Panama railway, the settlement was first called Aspinwall after one of the builders of the railway. Colon is the Spanish form of Columbus; the name of the neighboring port of Cristobal is Spanish for Christopher. After completion of the railway in 1855, Colon overshadowed the older Caribbean ports of Panama, and with the first plans for the isthmian canal it took on additional prestige. Built on swampy Manzanillo Island, the city was notoriously unhealthful until U.S. Col. William C. Gorgas, in charge of sanitation during the canal construction, gave it a new system of waterworks and sewerage and drained the surrounding swamps
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