The Panama Canal Railway Company is a railway line that links the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean across Panama in Central America. The route stretches 47.6 miles across the Isthmus of Panama from Colón (Atlantic) to Balboa (Pacific, near Panama City).
The infrastructure of this still-functioning railroad (formerly the Panama Railway or Panama Rail Road) was of vital importance for the construction of the Panama Canal over a parallel route half a century later. The principal incentive for the building of the rail line was the vast increase in traffic to California owing to the 1849 California Gold Rush. Construction on the Panama Railroad began in 1850 and the first revenue train ran over the full length on January 28, 1855. Referred to as an inter-oceanic railroad when it opened,it was later also described by some as representing a “transcontinental” railroad, despite only transversing the narrow isthmus connecting the North and South American continents.