Construction of the Panama Canal by the United States was completed between 1904 and 1914. The Panama Canal Zone was an unincorporated territory of the United States from 1903 to 1979. The Zone consisted of the canal itself, and an area extending approximately five miles on both sides of the canal, excluding Panama City and Colón. The workers who built the canal lived and worked in the Canal Zone.
Rollin Peter Burns (1877-1942) of Rochester, NY, reported for duty within the Engineering Department on the Isthmus on November 17, 1907. He began his time in Panama as a Trainman in the Culebra Division, was later promoted to Conductor in the Central Division, and eventually ended up under the division of the Chief Engineer. Burns was employed there through October 24, 1913, near the end of construction on the Panama Canal. He and his wife, Alice, departed Panama on the USMSS Cristobal the very next day, sailing from Cristobal, C.Z. (Canal Zone) for New York, Oct. 25, 1913.
The Horne Collection was donated to the Canal Society by Mary Horne, the niece of Rollin Burns, who inherited his collection of Panama Canal photographs.