Panama Canal Essay

Throughout history humankind has always found ways to make things more efficient. Humans like to explore and find new and better ways to do things, but often this dreams or new ideas are crushed with failure. In 1879 the French’s started one of the most innovating ideas that up to this date it is used and has been very effective in its use. If it weren’t for this idea commerce wouldn’t have been the great and successful machine that it is today.

The Panama Canal is the only canal in the world that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans; this means that boats do not need to sale all around the continent; they just pass trough the Panama Canal. In 1879 the concession for the construction of the Panama Canal was given to a French company and in 1881-1882 the construction began. This only lasted until 1889 because of the infections and diseases that the workers were having.

It is estimated that between 1881 and 1889 22,000 workers died because of diseases. After this failure the company went bankrupt. After this, in 1894 another French company came and tried to finish the job that the other company had started. After a second French failure the construction of the Panama Canal was handed to the United States. In 1904 the United States continued what the French failed to do twice. The engineer in charge of the project was John Findley Wallace, but Wallace would resign in 1905.

After Wallace came the self-educated engineer John Frank Stevens. Stevens would point to current US president, Theodore Roosevelt said the Canal needed to be constructed with a set of locks that would raise the ships pass trough the canal and then lower the ship to sea level. The United States would finish the canal 10 years later, in 1914 and they maintained control of it until 2000. The Canal was handed to the Panamanians thanks to the Torrijos-Carter treaty.

The Panama Canal consists of a set of locks and a path (Gaillard cut or Corte Culebra) connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The different water level between the oceans was an issue that needed to be solved. Building three locks that could raise the ships when traveling from the Pacific to the Atlantic or lowering them if they were coming from the Atlantic to the Pacific solved this problem. The locks have with set of precautionary measurements due to the possible damage that they could experience.

If such damage occurs, several problems might surge provoking large floods in the surrounding areas. The Panama Canal has been functioning for more than 100 years and now is under an expansion process. The Panama Canal is a marvelous creation that influenced a lot Panamanian economy since given to the Panamanian government. Not only it benefits Panama, but also every ship that wants to go from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean or vice versa, saves a lot of money by cruising through the Panama Canal.

This shows how well thought engineering creations can last for many years being important and still well functioning. To sum up, the Panama Canal is a very valuable asset to the Panamanian economy. Its construction was not easy; the French tried and could not make it. The United States of America build it successfully. Now it is being updated so that larger ships could cruise through it and that way making life easier for all ship companies and regular businessman.

* “The Panama Canal.” The Panama Canal. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2012. <>. * Professor Demostenes Diaz. Instituto Alberto Einstein.