About Osmund Osmundsen

He left Stavanger Norway around 1900, married Hildur Olava Olsen and lived in and around NY City building a career as an "Expert Rigger."  His knowledge of rigging is what I believe drew him to the Panama Canal.  My childhood image of his "working" on the canal was with a shovel.  However, recent public TV programs and books about the canal revealed that rigging was very important to the success of this mammoth project.  Moving earth and construction materials with rigging technology increased efficiency and greatly reduced the risk of landslides. 

Osmund's accomplishments were not free of hardships for the family.  Mail and money he sent home often arrived late and sometimes did not arrive at all.  Despite pride in what he did, his wife had to find ways to make ends meet.  She secretly "took in" laundry from neighbors to keep the larder full.  His toddler son and baby daughter (my mother) did not see him for years.    Such hardships and pain were often borne by the families of men on great adventures.

I learned from reading a web page entitled , Remembering Edward Schildhauer by Roberto R. Roy
, that the media focused on the politicians, developers and funders.  Engineers were often forgotten, especially those directly responsible for specific projects, in deference to those who provided general oversight.  Mr. Schildhauer's impact on the canal was extraordinary and lock mechanisms he designed still function.  He was the son of  German immigrants. 

Osmund  was a Norwegian engineer from Stavanger who learned his trade the hard way.  Both Stevens and Goethals could appreciate his practical knowledge and skills.  Histories of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal credit "Norwegian Riggers" as being critical to the success of both projects.  Although he was an immigrant, did the Panama Canal company value his contributions?  I think so.  As the millenium approaches, and renovations begin, we will think about the Panama Canal.  I hope folks think about Osmund Osmundsen as well.

Osmund Osmundsen

Click to see this house in 2000

In 1976 I stood by his father Torger's house at 15 Rosenkildgate which he left to seek  adventure and opportunity in the world.  His house still stands in Stavanger not far from the Torget.  He sailed in tall ships before settling down in the USA.

Payday in Panama

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