The Panama Canal: Connecting Two Oceans and Innovating Travel

The Panama Canal

Promotional Poster for the Canal

Fun Facts About The Panama Canal

  • The canal opened on July 12, 1920.
  • Ships traveling between New York and San Francisco save 7,872 miles by using the Panama Canal instead of going around Cape Horn.
  • The Atlantic entrance to the Canal is 22-1/2 miles west of the Pacific entrance.
  • More than four and half million cubic yards of concrete went in to the construction of the locks and dams.
  • Material originally excavated to build the Canal were put on to a train of flat cars, it would encircle the world four times.
  • The locks of the Panama Canal are seven feet thick.
  • Each door of the locks weights 750 tons.
  • Due to the reclining “S” shape of the Isthmus of Panama the sun rises from the Pacific and sets in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The average sea level for the Atlantic and Pacific entrance is virtually the same. But since the tidal variation at the Pacific entrance can be up to 18 feet, a sea level canal would be faced with the problem of a current running northbound when the Pacific tide was high and a current running south bound when the tide was low.
  • On February 29, 1968 the most transits on a single day with an amount of 65 ships crossing the isthmus was recorded.
  • In June 1979 the U.S. Navy hydrofoil Pegasus made the fastest transit ever when it crossed the Panama Canal in record time of 2 hours and 41 minutes.
  • Approximately 7,300 or nearly 92 percent of the work force of the Panama Canal is Panamanian.
  • The 13,700 transit in 1996 carried more than 198 million long tons of cargo to ports throughout the world.
  • More than 60,000,000 pounds of dynamite was used to excavate and construct the Panama Canal.
  • The dam constructed across the Chagres River in Gatun created Gatun Lake , the largest man-made lake in the world at that time.

    Gatun Locks

    Gatun Locks

  • The rock and soil excavated from Culebra cut was used to build the shell of the dam at Gatun on the Atlantic side.
  • Since 1904 due to accidents and health problems, 5609 workers lost their lives, constructing the Canal. 80% of them were Black and 350 were white Americans.
  • On August 23, 1928 Richard Halliburton transited the Canal swimming , paying a toll of 36 cents since his weight was 150 pounds.
  • The cruise ship Rhapsody of the Sea established a toll record in 1997 when it paid $153,662.66 to cross the water-way.
  • The San Juan Prospector was the longest ship to transit the Canal; it was 751 ft. (229 m.) in length with a 107 ft. (32.6 m.) beam.
  • In 1963 the Panama Canal for the first time started operating on a 24 hour, round-the-clock schedule, thanks to the introduction high mass fluorescent lighting.
  • The Panama Canal in 1974 raised the toll rates for the first time since they were not breaking even.
  • Excavation of the Canal was equal to digging a 10 feet trench deep by 55 wide from California to New York.
Special thanks to  web.bryant.edu and www.panamatours.com
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Filed under Historical Events & Figures, Science, Travel

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