File No. 819.77/265

Minister Price to the Secretary of State

No. 1207

Sir: I have the honor to report that Mr. Basil Burns Duncan of this city visited the Legation to-day and stated that it was his desire to present, as soon as possible, to the National Assembly, his application for a concession to construct a railroad along the Atlantic coast of Panama between the mouth of the Chagres River and Chiriqui Lagoon, and that he desired to advise me of his intention so that the Department of State might have due notice of it.

It will be remembered that this concession has been asked for by Mr. Duncan several times in the past and has been refused pursuant to objections lodged, as I understand, by our military authorities.

It seems that Mr. Duncan took this matter up direct with the Departments of State and War in the early part of this session of the National Assembly. He showed me a letter from the Department of State under date of October 17 last, stating that his letter of October 2, relative to a projected railroad in the Province of Chiriqui, had been referred to the War Department for appropriate comment. As I understand from Mr. Duncan his letter, to which the Department’s communication was an answer, was with reference to the projected railroad mentioned above, and that his plans do not comprehend any railroad building in the Province of Chiriqui, and that this reference has likely resulted from the fact that one terminus of the road is intended to be near the Chiriqui Lagoon, which, though bearing the name Chiriqui, lies on the Atlantic side in the Province of Bocas del Toro.

He showed me letters, also, from the Washington office of the Panama Canal, under date of December 2, from the Acting Governor of the Panama Canal, under date of December 5, and from the Adjutant General of the War Department, under date of November 27, respectively, all to the same effect, and the text of the last one mentioned being as follows:


War Department,
The Adjutant General’s Office,
Washington, November 27, 1916.

Mr. B. B. Duncan, Box 383, Ancon, Canal Zone.

Dear Sir: Referring to your letter of September 30, 1916, relative to the construction of a projected railroad near the Atlantic coast in Panama, I am directed by the Secretary of War to inform you that there is no objection from a military point of view to a concession for the construction of such a railroad from near the mouth of the Chagres River to the Chiriqui Lagoon, but that the construction of a branch line to Penonomé, or anywhere in that vicinity, is not favorably considered. The military authorities, and the authorities in charge of the Panama Canal have been informed accordingly.

Very respectfully,

(Signed) Wm. M. Cruikshank,
Adjutant General

Inasmuch as the present session of the National Assembly is supposed now to adjourn the latter part of January (though the session [Page 1186] may again be extended) Mr. Duncan is anxious for as prompt an expression as possible from the Department.

I have [etc.]

Wm. Jennings Price