THE EXCITING HISTORY OF THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PANAMA CANAL.

 

Most people in the world have catalogued the emblematic Panama Canal as the eighth wonder of the modern world, a title it deserves without a doubt.

On August 15, 1914, when the Panama Canal was officially inaugurated, it was the most ambitious and monumental construction work built in recent times, innovating the maritime industry by enabling quick access between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, allowing trade between Asia, America and Europe to be more expeditious than the Suez Canal.

The idea of creating a maritime pass between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean arose since the 16th century. Per order of King Charles V, many explorers came to these thick jungles to conduct a study of the terrain to take illustrated samples of the place, its species and terrain studies. During these expeditions, the capital Antonio Tello de Guzmán discovered a road that crossed it from the Gulf of Panama to Panama, a road that had been built by the natives for centuries.

Not only did the Spaniards use and were interested in improving this commercial passage, for in 1520 the Portuguese thought of finding an easier way to reach the Southern Seas. The United States, after integrating with California, began construction of the Panama Railroad in 1850. After five years of tedious construction, it was inaugurated in 1855, linking the current cities of Colon and Panama.

After almost three decades of the railways’     inaguration, the French became the first to have an attempt at the inter-oceanic canal in 1880, led by the famous engineer Ferdinand De Lesseps, who had already succeeded in building the Suez Canal in Egypt. Building on his popularity following the recent success in Egypt, the architect established a company called Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interoceanico, with a total budget of $214 million, and the project was expected to be completed in 12 years. The project began on January 1, 1882, but after a decade of dealing with climatic conditions, diseases (yellow fever and malaria) and poor financial management, the French company of the Panama Canal declared itself bankrupt on May 15, 1889, and only managed 2/5 of the projected works, on which it spent little more than its budget of 214 million dollars. So the project came to a halt, until the American country set its sights on the project.

The new republic of Panama, which managed to separate from Colombia in 1903 after dozens of attempts, taking advantage of its newfound autonomy, granted the U.S. the perpetual rights to the Canal in the amount of 10 million dollars and an annual profit of $250,000 stipulated in the Hay-Bunay Varilla treaty on November 18. On January 7, 1914, the first work began. However, it was not until August 15, 1914, that the Ancon steamship officially inaugurated the Panama Canal. The operations in the channel were set 24 hours a day, for which a fluorescent lighting system was installed in specific and strategic areas.

Despite the Hay-Bunay Varilla treaty signed on November 18 between Panama and the United States, it was much questioned in the following decades, as Panama wanted to regain control of the canal. After several events such as the “Siembre Banderas” (Flags Planting) operation and the riots of January 9, 1964, negotiations began in 1970 between the government of Panama and the United States.

On September 17, 1977, the Torrijos-Carter treaties were signed, which entered into force on October 1, 1979, gradually putting an end to U.S. domination of the canal. On December 31, 1999, full control over the Canal was returned to Panama by its administrators, now known as the Panama Canal Authority (ACP by its acronym in Spanish).

After more than a decade of having absolute control of the canal’s traffic, on October 22, 2006, Panama held a plebiscite in which the Panamanian people decided and approved the creation of a third set of locks to modernize the Panama Canal, allowing the transit of Post-Panamax ships. The new locks were inaugurated on June 26, 2016.

After 104 years of operation of the Panama Canal and all its history between 1914 and 2018, we will remember the entire construction period with photographs from 1887 (when it was in charge of the French) to 1914, the year in which it was inaugurated and began to operate.

(Image of Panama Old School)

(Image of Panama Old School)

(Image of Panama Old School)

(Image of Panama Old School)

(Image of Panama Old School)

(Image of Panama Old School)

(Image of Panama Old School)

(Image of Panama Old School)

(Image of Panama Old School)

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