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Important Events in the History of Barro Colorado


As part of the effort to build the Panama Canal, the Chagres River was dammed.

The flooding of the Chagres Valley resulted in the formation of Lake Gatun. Barro Colorado Island was formed when the top of a big hill was isolated by the rising waters of the lake.


James Zetek, entomologist working for the Panama Canal Company and Thomas Barbour, Chairman of the Institute for Research in Tropical America seek an area for a reserve.

With William Morton Wheeler and Richard Strong from Harvard they persuade Canal Zone Governor J.J. Morrow to declare Barro Colorado Island a “Natural Park” and to ban all hunting.


The U.S. Congress assumes administrative control of BCI as the Canal Zone Biological Area.

This commemorate stamp marked the event


The Smithsonian Institution becomes permanent steward of the reserve.


Martin Moynihan becomes Resident Naturalist.


Under the direction of Martin Moynihan, the growing number of staff and research facilities are consolidated as the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.


Ira Rubinoff becomes director of STRI.


The surrounding penninsulas become part of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument when the Torrijos-Carter Canal Treaties are signed.