Oman Systems, Inc. and the Panama Canal

Panama Canal

In honor of nearing 116 years since the original opening of the Panama Canal, we wanted to share our company’s tie to this historic project.

So, how is a construction software company connected to the Panama Canal?

The Panama Canal first opened as a 300 ft., one-way passage on August 15, 1904

After World War II, increased commercial shipping volume made shipowners resort to larger vessels. This increase in demand and ship size caused 48-hour wait periods to pass through the canal. 

After pressure from ship owners reached its peak, funding was raised to widen the canal to 500 ft.    

Now, here’s where Oman Systems’ predecessor company, Oman Construction, comes in.

For the first time in history, outside contractors were selected to work on the canal. Oman Construction was awarded the contract for the final 8.3 miles of the Gaillard Cut. This section was the most dangerous part of the project because of the risk of landslides. This stretch of the canal also required workers to seamlessly complete the project alongside the daily ship traffic. 

Not only did Oman Construction complete this dangerous part of the project without incident, but the company also wrapped up 19 months ahead of schedule. 

Not to brag, but we don’t know many software companies who can boast connections to the Panama Canal as well as the Trans Alaska Pipeline, FDR’s swimming pool, and the largest earth-fill dam in the U.S.

A software company with a long line of construction history under our belt, that’s who we are.

Oman’s Stone and FDR’s Pool

Did you know there is an indoor swimming pool in the White House?

While you might not find this question on a U.S. history test, it does provide an interesting anecdote. 

Throughout his adult life, Franklin D. Roosevelt used swimming as a means to exercise and ease the side effects of polio. In 1933, he decided to bring his physical therapy to the White House by requesting the construction of an indoor swimming pool. 

FDR's swimming pool (credit: 
National Archives).

The pool is located in the West Wing, and for years was only accessible through a trapped door in the press briefing room. 

Now, you might be thinking: what does this have to do with Oman Systems?

FDR's Thank You Letter to John Oman

John Oman Senior started his career as a stonemason and founded Crab Orchard Stone to operate alongside Oman Construction in 1929. 

In 1933, Crab Orchard Stone was used to provide the non-slip material for Roosevelt’s swimming pool. This stone, found only in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, allowed the president to move around the pool with ease and eliminated the need for mats.

Roosevelt was so please with the floors, he wrote a personal thank you letter to John Oman. The letter still hangs in the Oman Systems office today.

An outdoor pool was later built at the request of Gerald R. Ford in 1975. However, FDR’s “grand old tub” will always hold a special place in our hearts. 

White House Envelope Addressed to John Oman.