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The History of the Panama Canal

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Allison Schiffman

on 11 June 2013

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Transcript of The History of the Panama Canal

by Gillian Kutrosky and Allison Schiffman The History of the Panama Canal Why make the Canal? The First Step The Americans recommenced the project in 1904. Although Theodore Roosevelt was determined to succeed, things did not go as planned. Disease struck the workers, the food was horrible, and three out of every four people booked passage back home. The U.S. redirected their effort to cleaning up the living conditions and the labor force from digging before they started again. By December of 1905, yellow fever was eradicated in the isthmus. The plan worked and towns rose out of the jungle. The Americans adopted the french plan of damming up the rivers to create a large lake with locks on either side to solve the problem of sea level differences. The Second Step The locks worked perfectly on all of their test runs and they were officially opened on August 15, 1914. The first ship to sail across after the opening was the SS Ancon. America spent $352 million on the project and it is estimated that 80,000 took part in the building of the Canal and that about 30,000 died over the 34 years it took to build it. Although the construction of the Canal is seen as the greatest engineering project in history, many did not take notice because WWI was beginning. The Canal Opens In 2012, the Panama Canal had 14,544 ships pass through, collected roughly 1.8 billion in tolls, and 20o million tons of cargo crossed it. The current locks are 110 feet wide and a third lane of locks is being built. The Canal reduces the time it takes for ships to sail from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean by half. Today The Beginning In the mid 16th century, Charles V realized it took too much time for the gold of South America to reach Spain. This is because in order to go to the west side of South America from Europe you have to go around the southern tip of South America or Africa which took too much time and money than it was worth. This problem could be solved by creating a strait through Panama. How did they start? They drew up a plan in 1529, but gave up on actually following through. In the 19th century, people started to have interest in a canal, and decided that it had to go over Panama or Nicaragua. They chose Panama because it would require the smallest canal. In 1881 the United States signed a deal with Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps to build the Panama Canal. They decided on a two-step plan. It was realized that the Pacific and Atlantic oceans had a difference in sea levels of 19 feet. In addition, the French excavators were beginning to want to give up and go home because the work was too great, there were many threats of landslides, and they were running out of funds and supplies. In order to fix most of these problems, the French decided to construct a high level lock system, which would prevent landslides and would save 10 million cubic meters of excavation. In 1899, the French quit working on the canal because of disease carrying mosquitoes and inadequate machinery. The French were able to excavate a total of 59.75 million cubic meters, dug eleven miles of canal, and lowered the peak about 102 meters during their time. The French spent about $287 million on the project. Unfortunately 20,000 men had died.
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