General George Washington Goethals was made chief engineer of the Panama Canal in 1907, and he selected Gaillard to oversee dredging and excavation.
Engineer, soldier. David DuBose Gaillard was born on September 4, 1859, in Fulton, Sumter District. His parents were Samuel Isaac Gaillard and Susan Richardson DuBose. Gaillard lived with his parents, grandparents, and sisters in Clarendon until 1872, when he moved to Winnsboro to attend Mount Zion Collegiate Institute. Gaillard entered West Point in 1880 and graduated fifth in his class in 1884. He was commissioned second lieutenant of engineers and would eventually attain the rank of colonel. He and Katherine Ross Davis of Columbia were married in Winnsboro on October 6, 1887. The couple later had one son.
Gaillard’s work as an engineer took him around the world: he taught engineering in Willets Point, New York; worked on the international boundary between the United States and Mexico; oversaw the water supply in Washington, D.C.; surveyed the Portland Channel in Alaska; and performed general staff duty in Cuba. His most important work, however, came when he was appointed to work on the Panama Canal.
General George Washington Goethals was made chief engineer of the Panama Canal in 1907, and he selected Gaillard to oversee dredging and excavation. The following year Gaillard took charge of the most challenging section: the “Culebra Cut,” which crossed the continental divide. Gaillard worked for years fighting the difficult terrain and constant earth slides. He collapsed on July 26, 1913, and was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he died on December 5. Culebra Cut was renamed Gaillard Cut in his honor. Gaillard was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington,
United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. 3d Regiment (Volunteer). David Du Bose Gaillard. St. Louis, Mo., 1916.