The Longest Shortcut Section One The problem was the great 12,000 mile distance to go around South America to get to from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean or vice versa. The solution was to make canal to cut the distance down significantly. Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovered the Pacific coast in the 1513. Many famous people including Benjamin Franklin suggested that a route could be made through Panama to shorten the path. However, others people disagreed that it could be done in Panama. German explorer Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt believed that Panama was too mountainous and the wrong place to build the canal.
U.S. Army Col. Charles Biddle concluded after four days of hiking in the jungle that the impracticality of building a canal in Panama ought to be clear to anyone. (Kiger) Designing, constructing, and implementing the Panama Canal is one of the largest macro-engineering projects in recorded history. It took a two nations and the workforce of many other nations to complete.
Columbia lost a large part of its land and the Republic of Panama was created for the sole purpose of building the Canal. Apart from wars, it represented the largest, most costly single effort ever before mounted anywhere on earth. (McCullough 11) Not only were there advances in technology, but also entire technologies were created for this macro-engineering project. In the history of finance capitalism, in the history of medicine, it was an event of signal consequence. It marked a score of advances in engineering, government planning, labor relations.
(McCullough 12) Even thought it took numerous people to design and finish the Panama Canals original creator was the entrepreneur Vicomte Ferdinand De Lesseps. Ideas varied on how to complete the task. Vicomte Ferdinand De Lesseps was the first in charge of the Panama Canal. De Lesseps promoted the idea of the French building the canal. He believed that he would return pride to France by completing this project.
He successfully completed the Suez Canal in Egypt. He planned to repeat his success in Panama using a sea level canal. He sold stock and investors put up about 240 million dollars. Three times the amount of what the Suez Canal cost. The completion of the Canal was set at twelve years. 20,000 workers were working on the canal by 1883. The French had a string of failures.
They failed because the technology and medical technologies didnt exist at this point of time. De Lesseps was more a man of personality then an engineer, for he had no technical training. The French piled dirt up next to the spots they were digging. This cause landslides and they had to dig the same spots over. About 200 people were dieing a month from yellow fever.
(Kiger) The French had no idea what was causing this. Next to the hospital they had plants in basins filled with water to stop umbrella ants from eating them. Unbeknownst to the French this was the perfect breeding ground. These basins helped mosquitoes breed in great numbers that carried yellow fever. The money was squandered and embezzled from the project.
The French then decide that maybe switching to a lock canal might be better in order to try to comfort investors. De Lesseps realizes that he is out of his league and asks Eiffel for help. It is too late for the French to succeed in completing the canal. De Lessepss Canal Company goes out of business and simply run out of funds to continue work. The French pull out of Panama after 10 years, but not until 287 million dollars was spent and 20,000 people died.
Many people are sent to prison over the financial fiasco. The word Panama became synonymous with the word scandal in France. Leon F. Czolgosz, aged twenty-eight, a Detroit resident of Polish heritage and an unemployed mill worker of anarchist sentiments, had fired a concealed .32 Iver Johnson revolver point blank into the President’s chest. McKinley doubled over and fell backward into the arms of his Secret Service escorts. (The American President) When this happened the presidential power went to Theodore Roosevelt.
With this change also brought change in American foreign policy. Columbia could not agree with terms United States wanted to impose on the completion of the canal. Theodore Roosevelt was able to have some well to do locals have an uprising. There was not much bloodshed in this uprising, for the American Warship cruised in making it impossible for Columbia to land any troops. Panama was under the protection of the United States.
The United States started of as poorly as the French. John Wallace is put in charge, but quits after only one year. Most of the workers are rejects from the railroad in United States. Money is not spent on the necessary sanitation and pest control requirements. John Stevens replaces John Wallace as head of the operation.
Stevens successfully built the Western railroads in the mountainous areas. He immediately stops all construction and cleans up the work site. Towns with paved roads are built and sanitized. Dr. William Gorgous gets the supplies he needs to stop the mosquitoes that cause yellow fever.
Everything to make the skilled white workers conditions livable is built. Many recreation and other luxury items are brought in. Mysteriously and debatably why Stevens quits. Some say that he cracked under the pressure. (A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama) Roosevelt does not want anymore delays in the completion of the canal. Roosevelt becomes tired of people quitting the job so he orders Army officer Col. George W.
Goethals to take over. Goethals takes over and finishes the canal. Section Two In 1870 the enormous task of building the Panama Canal began. The first Nation to begin the digging of the canal is the French. The primary reason they want to build the canal is for commerce. Twelve years after the French failure in 1901 the Untied States stepped in to complete the job.
As the Nova Video A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama suggests that Theodore Roosevelt wanted to control both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He wanted the United States to have a powerful navy. In 1898, with the United States and Spain on the brink of war, the Oregon — the U.S. Navy’s first true battleship — took 67 days to rush back from San Francisco to the Caribbean. (Kiger) Roosevelt wanted to be able to move warships from one side of the American coast to the other in a much quicker manner. The Panama Canal is forty miles long and saves eight thousand miles off the trip from The Atlantic to the Pacific. The canal goes south from the Atlantic Ocean for seven miles into the Limn Bay which is a dredged area.
This area of the canal goes for eleven and one half mile until it reaches the Gatun locks. These three locks rise ships eighty five feet into Gatun Lake. From there to the Culebra Cut is twenty three miles. The cut goes for eight miles and is only five hundred feet wide. Then the Pedro Miguel single lock lowers ships thirty one feet.
Next there is a one mile lake to the Miraflores locks. The two locks drop ships down a total of 54 feet. Then the final seven mile dredge to the Bay of panama. The locks are the tallest structures in the world at the time. The lock chambers are 1,000 feet long, 110 feet wide, and 41 feet deep.