John Frank StevensBorn 25 Apr 1853; died 2 Jun 1943 at age 90.American civil engineer and railroad executive who, as chief engineer of the Panama Canal from late 1905 to Apr 1907, laid the basis for that project's successful completion. He was recognized as the world's foremost railway civil engineer when he arrived on the Isthmus in 1905. The fundamental problem that he faced was one of restoring confidence and morale. A yellow fever epidemic, followed by the unexpected resignation of the first Chief Engineer, John F. Wallace, had made the Canal Zone a scene of chaos and hysteria. He found no order, no plan on the job. He planned the main features of the waterway and lobbied openly in May and June 1906 for a high-level, lock-type canal. On 29 Jun 1906, the President's signature put into that plan into law.