The Panama Canal opened 100 years ago this week, and an event Thursday will be focused on part of that history.

“A Man, A Plan, A Panama Canal Railway: A Conversation with Dave Starling” is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 4801 Main St. It’s preceded by a 6 p.m. reception. It’s free.

The event is part of the Truman Forum, and the Truman Library Institute is among the sponsors.

A 47-mile rail line cuts across Panama, and the opening of the canal hurt its business badly. However, the Panama Canal Railway Company – half-owned by Kansas City Southern – took it over in 1998 and restored it.

Starling, now Kansas City Southern’s president and CEO, was president and general director of the Panama Canal Railway Company from 1998 to 2008 and oversaw the effort to revive the rail line, which today has freight and passenger service to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Starling and Crosby Kemper III on Thursday will discuss a new exhibit, “The Land Divided, the World United: Building the Panama Canal.” That exhibit will be on display for the rest of the year at the Linda Hall Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.