We visited the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal in January, 2016. There are locks at each end to lift the ships to lake Gatun.
It all started in the year 1534, when the King of Spain ordered a survey of the Americas, looking for a route to ease the voyage of ships between Spain and Peru.
In 1881, the French finally started construction through an isthmus belonging to Colombia.
By 1884, the death rate of workers building the canal was 200 per month.
Eventually, in 1889, the french ran out of money. By this time, a reported $287,000,000 had been invested in the canal. And 22, 000 lives had been lost.
President Roosevelt famously stated that "I took the Isthmus, started the canal and then left Congress not to debate the canal, but to debate me."
On November 2, 1903, U.S. warships blocked sea lanes for possible Colombian troop movements aimed for the Panamanian rebellion. President Roosevelt signed a treaty supporting the separation of Colombia and Panama. Panama declared independence in 1903.
"On November 6, 1903, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, as Panama's ambassador to the United States, signed the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty, granting rights to the United States to build and indefinitely administer the Panama Canal Zone and its defenses." Wikipedia
In 1904, the U.S. bought the french interests in the canal including the equipment, excavations and the Panama Railroad for an estimated 40 million and started re-construction.
In 1921, the U.S. granted Columbia special privileges in the canal zone and paid Columbia an estimated 25 million.
The U.S. upgraded everything. And according to Wikipedia:
There was investment in extensive sanitation projects, including city water systems, fumigation of buildings, spraying of insect-breeding areas with oil and larvicide, installation of mosquito netting and window screens, and elimination of stagnant water.
After U.S. construction of the canal began, an estimated 5,600 people lost their lives. Even after all of the improvements. It would cost 375,000,000 to complete.
In August of 1914, the canal was formally opened. 1,000 ships passed through that year.
In 1977, the U.S. handed over the control of the canal to Panama.
It takes about 6-8 hours to pass through the 48 mile waterway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
And in my opinion, is fun to watch! Building, not so much.
It's Halloween month over at The Chorus of the Crows My creative writing blog.
My feathered and checkered past is revealed, once again...
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