Panama Canal, Panama
One of the great engineering feats of the 20th century, the Panama Canal accomplished what nature forgot to do; it connected the Atlantic to the Pacific, and reduced the 12,000 mile sailing distance between New York and San Francisco by more than 7,000 miles.
A Three Hundred Year Old Dream
Completed in 1914, the Panama Canal was the culmination of a dream that began in 1513 with the Spanish conquistador Balboa. He was the first European to trek across the 43-mile-wide Isthmus of Panama. In 1880, The French Canal Company began construction, but plagued by diseases, financial burdens and engineering problems, they sold the canal's rights and properties to the United States for $40 million. The US began construction in 1904 and completed it ten years later at a cost of roughly $387 million an unprecedented amount at the time.
An engineering achievement
Building the Panama Canal involved solving monumental engineering challenges. In addition to the staggering concept of digging through the Continental Divide, the project also involved constructing the largest earth dam ever built up to that time, designing and building the most massive canal locks ever envisioned, constructing the largest gates ever swung, and solving environmental problems of enormous proportions.
An Incredible Experience
Without question, the best way to experience every mile of this magnificent wonder is from the deck of a transiting ship. From this privileged vantage point you get an incomparable perspective while passing through the canal's three sets of locks. Ships passing through these are raised and lowered 85 feet.
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