The Panama Canal is a lake-and-lock type canal connecting the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Isthmus of Panama, in Central America. Its length from the deep waters of the Atlantic to the deep Pacific is 51 miles (82 km). By using the canal (instead of going around Cape Horn), ships sailing between the coasts of the United States can shorten their voyage by about 8,000 nautical miles.
Panama Canal Time Line
The main decision facing the engineers was whether to build a sea level or high-level, lake-and-lock canal. In 1897, the French engineer, Adolphe Godin de Lepinay proposed the creation of dams on the Chagres and Rio Grande Rivers, creating lakes that would be connected by a cut through the continental divide. Although early developers rejected this idea, it soon became the basis for the final draft in 1906 by John F. Stevens. Stevens was the chief engineer of the U.S. Isthmian Canal commission. U.S. construction of the canal had begun in 1904 but was stimulated after the U.S. congress adapted Stevens plan. The canal opened to traffic on August 15 1914. There has been much dispute between American and Panamanian sovereignty of the waterway, but the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 established that the Republic of Panama will take complete control of the canal in the year 2000.
Panama Canal Flow Chart
Vessels are taken in by electric towing locomotives that operate on tracks on the lock walls. Usually six locomotives accompany one ship. Because the locks are duplicate, ships can pass in either direction simultaneously. Including the waiting period, ships require fifteen to twenty hours for passage. Common goods that are transported through the canal are crude oil and petroleum products, grains, coal, and coke.
The Panama Canal has greatly increased the efficiency of transportation of economic goods for the entire world.
Panama Canal Achievements:
In the year 1915, the first year of operation, about 5 million tons of cargo were shipped through the Panama Canal. In 1924, 27 million tons of cargo were carried through it. Between 1925 and 1941 the annual amount varied between 18 million and 31 million. There was a dip in total cargo during World War II, but since then nearly every year has shown an increase. The figure for 1950 was about 30 million tons. By the early 1960s the volume had almost doubled. The Panama canal has also accomplished many other things in its 74 years of presence.
Panama Canal Picture Gallery