Julian L. Schley


Julian L. Schley was born in Savannah, Georgia, on February 23, 1880, the son of Julian and Eliza Larcombe Schley. He graduated from Lawrenceville (N.J.) Schools in 1898, and from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1903 and graduated from the Engineer School U.S. Academy in 1908. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1903; promoted through the ranks to lieutenant colonel on October 17, 1926; was instructor of the U.S. Military Academy from 1909 to 1912; assistant to engineer commissioner of D.C. from 1912 to 1913; commander of the 307th Engineers Regiment and later Corps of Engineer, 5th Corps, World War I from 1917 to 1918; was director of purchase and member of the War Department of Claims from 1919 to 1921; in charge of river and harbor improvement in New Orleans vicinities from 1916 to 1917; and was Panama Canal maintenance engineer from 1928 to 1932. In 1931 he married Denise Vary.

Schley was appointed as Governor of the Panama Canal Zone in 1932. He had been in charge of important work on rivers and harbors in Nashville and Galveston from 1916 to 1928, and had great knowledge and experience in applied hydraulics. Under his tenure, construction of Madden Dam was begun and finished, creating the additional Canal water supply that would provide for future traffic expansion.

Governor Schley, like Governor Walker, was a quiet man whose interest in the Canal and its progress was all-absorbing. He spent long hours at his desk, early and late, and resolved each problem, every question of development and improvement down to the last detail. He had not only looked toward the future material needs of the Panama Canal, but had also looked toward the human side of its future progress.

Schley had anticipated a need for building and maintaining up a high quality work force just as a high standard was maintained in Canal materials and equipment. To this end he brought more trained men into the Canal’s working organization and instituted a training program to prepare young men in the skills and crafts to serve as potential future workers.

Like Morrow, Schley faced a bitter task of reorganization. In the face of world-wide depression and consequent decreased tolls from shipping, a reduction in force became necessary. He accomplished the task by judiciously paring here and trimming there, yet at the same time, never impairing nor handicapping the efficient Canal organization. It was a labor that required care and judgment.

During his tenure as Governor, the Thatcher Highway and Ferry were opened on September 1, 1932; the Canal Zone College was opened on September 25, 1933; Cristobal High School was completed in 1933; plans were approved for a new townsite at Gatun; President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited on July 11, 1934, and October 16, 1935; a Goethals 3-cent stamp was placed on sale on August 15, 1934, and the apprentice-learner program began in 1935. Schley retired on September 30, 1941. He died on March 29, 1965.