John Findley Wallace

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John Findley Wallace (September 10, 1852 – July 3, 1921) with the middle name Findley not Findlay,[1] was an American Engineer and Administrator, best known for serving as the Chief Engineer of the Panama Canal between 1904 and 1906. He had previously gained experience in railroad construction in the American Midwest.[2]


He was not initially a member of the seven-man Isthmian Canal Commission, but was later appointed to it when it was reformed and its membership reduced to three following his own recommendation. He was paid $25,000 a year, the second largest salary in the American government, behind only the President.[3] Under his leadership the Americans struggled to make any significant developments in the construction of the canal, and were severely hit by an outbreak of yellow fever. In 1906 Wallace returned to America, attracted by a potential job offer, which incensed the Secretary of War William Taft who demanded his resignation.[4] The news of his departure rocked the morale of the workers on the canal, and many also left their jobs in the wake of his resignation. He was succeeded by John Frank Stevens.[5] Wallace remained an advocate of the concept of a sea-level canal at Panama which later proved unworkable.[6]


  1. ^ "John Findley Wallace". FindGrave. September 22, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  2. ^ Matthew Parker. Hell's Gorge:The Battle to Build the Panama Canal. p.214-16
  3. ^ Parker p.216
  4. ^ Parker p.251-2
  5. ^ Parker p.253-5
  6. ^ Parker p.284