|Alumni Hall of Fame
Harry H. Rousseau
Class of 1891
Panama Canal Builder
Appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to serve as a member of the Isthmian Canal Commission in 1907, Harry Harwood Rousseau was one of the leaders in the construction and early management of the Panama Canal. Rousseau had distinguished himself in the Navy Department's Bureau of Yards and Docks such that he was named the youngest chief of the bureau, a record to this day. His tenure as chief was short, however, as he was appointed to the canal commission almost immediately. Initially overseeing a staff of 10,000, he became the invaluable assistant to the chief engineer, George Goethals.
In 1911 he also was placed in charge of the design and construction of the canal terminals, including dry docks, piers, fuel oil plants, breakwaters, and floating cranes. Rousseau remained connected with the canal's operations for the remainder of his life, far longer than anyone else associated with the project. For his service in the building of the Panama Canal, Rousseau was elevated from the rank of commander to rear admiral in 1915 by special act of Congress.