On Sunday, June 26, 2016, a Chinese freighter transited the expanded Panama Canal. The man who inaugurated the canal nearly 110 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt, would have been astounded. When he arrived in the Isthmus of Panama in 1906 with his trusted photographer, Horace Dade Ashton, no canal existed.
President Roosevelt and Horace Ashton saw a huge sign that read “We’ll do our best to help you build it!” upon their arrival in Panama. Ashton describes their time there in the following paragraphs.
“‘Ah, that’s bully!’ Roosevelt exclaimed. “At that moment, the president recognized an old friend operating the steam shovel. He strode up to the man and shook his dirty hand as if he were a long-lost brother. I sprang into action with his camera. The president then hopped on and took over the steam shovel.”
“It was pouring rain,” said Ashton, a member of the Explorers Club, who took photographs every seventy seconds. “The entire three days Roosevelt was there, it poured as it never did before. We were hip deep in wet and slimy clay every which way we turned every hour of every day!”
Travel and trade have changed a great deal as a result of this pivotal journey.
To accompany Horace Ashton on his life’s journey, please read The Spirit of Villarosa, debuting June 28, 2016.
White Cattleya Orchid
Have you ever wondered where the beautiful blooms of the white cattleya orchid that we enjoy today originated?
In 1906 two young Englishmen accepted a job from a wealthy countryman to travel to the Rio Negro Valley in Colombia, South America, where these rare orchids were reportedly spotted by a group of rubber gatherers. Explorer Horace Ashton encountered the young men at the boardinghouse where all three stayed. After the would-be explorers admitted they’d never been in the jungle and Ashton said he’d just returned from mapping the Magdalena River, they enlisted him as their guide.
To read about their adventure and how the orchids lived to become the parents of the white cattleya that can be seen throughout the world today, read The Spirit of Villarosa, available on June 28, 2016. This true adventure story contains a treasure trove of unknown tales.
Can you imagine discussing religion with Rasputin, spiritual advisor to Czarina Alexandra, the wife of Nicholas II of Russia?
When Horace Ashton traveled the world with President-Elect William Howard Taft in 1908, he had an audience with Russia’s last royal couple. The czarina asked, “How did such a young man become the press liaison officer with President Taft’s party?” (more…)
On Father’s Day I am thankful for all of the dads in my life:
Bob, my birth father, a man I never met but am told I am most like;
Harry, who made me his little girl and loved me until the end;
Richard, my dear uncle, who became my father (and mother) when I was fifteen;
Don, my father-in-law, who brought gardens and his quiet presence into my life.
Happy Father’s Day to my husband, Don, a loving husband and devoted dad who raised two wonderful sons, Darryl and Ross. May they always know how much they are loved.
As a personal historian for more than eighteen years, I helped people remember their pasts. Sometimes their pasts held painful memories that my subjects did not wish to share. I respected their wishes, thinking about my own past and some of the pain therein. (more…)