Fort Sherman is a former United States Army base in Panama, located on Toro Point at the Caribbean (northern) end of the Panama Canal, on the western bank of the Canal directly opposite Colón (which is on the eastern bank). It was the primary defensive base for the Caribbean sector of the Canal, and was also the center for US jungle warfare training for some time. Its Pacific-side partner was Fort Amador. Both bases were turned over to Panama in 1999.
A previous Fort Sherman (1878–1900) was located in the United States at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. General William T. Sherman (1820–91) had recommended the site in north Idaho after an inspection tour in 1877. It began as a camp the next year, became Fort Coeur d'Alene in 1879, and the adjacent city grew. Sherman later visited the fort and it was named for him in 1887, three years after his retirement from the U.S. Army. The fort became unoccupied during the Spanish–American War and was abandoned shortly after. The site is now the campus of North Idaho College.
Concurrent with the Canal construction a number of defensive locations were developed to protect it, both with coastal defense guns, as well as military bases to defend against a direct infantry assault. Fort Sherman was the primary Caribbean-side infantry base, while Fort Amador protected the Pacific side. Construction of Fort Sherman began in January 1912 as a phase of the original 1910 defensive plans. Fort Sherman was named by War Department General Order No. 153 dated November 24, 1911, in honor of General Sherman. The Fort included 23,100 acres (93 km2) of land, about half of which was covered by jungle. The developed areas included housing, barracks for 300, a small airstrip and various recreational areas. Sherman was the site of the US's first operationally deployed early warning radar when an SCR-270 was installed there in 1941.
The fort contained the following batteries
- 4 Baird 12-inch mortars
- 4 Howard 12-inch mortars
- 1 Stanley 14-inch disappearing gun
- 1 Mower 14-inch disappearing gun
- 2 Kilpatrick 6-inch disappearing guns
- 2 Sedgwick Pratt 12-inch M1895 barbettes
- 2 Alexander Mackenzie 12-inch barbettes
- 4 155-mm guns
- 4 75-mm guns
After the decommissioning of the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps the forested area was used by the United States Army South (USARSO) Jungle Operations Training Center (JOTC). JOTC was founded in 1951 to train both US and allied Central American forces in jungle warfare, with an enrollment of about 9,000 a year. The JOTC also taught a 10-day Air Crew Survival Course, open to all branches of service, and a four-week Engineer Jungle Warfare Course. Upon completion of the course the Jungle expert badge or patch was awarded.
Between 1966 and 1979, 1,160 sounding rockets with maximum flight altitudes of 99 kilometres were launched at Fort Sherman.
- Military Railroads on the Panama Canal Zone by Charles S. Small, Railroad monographs 1982
- "Old Fort Sherman at Coeur d'Alene was founded 75 years ago today". Spokesman-Review. April 16, 1953. p. 28.
- "Military post preceded city". Spokane Daily Chronicle. July 2, 1976. p. 19.
- "75th birthday observance planned by Coeur d'Alene". Spokane Daily Chronicle. April 14, 1953. p. 3.
- "Fort Sherman" (PDF). Idaho State Historical Society, Reference Series #355. 1979. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
- "Fort may be placed on national register". Spokane Daily Chronicle. November 16, 1978. p. 3.
- "Fate of Old Fort Sherman". Spokane Daily Chronicle. May 10, 1900. p. 3.
- Johnston, Kathy (July 9, 1978). "100-year-old building destroyed". Spokesman-Review. p. B2.
- "History & Tradition". North Idaho College. Retrieved December 11, 2012.