Panama Canal World Geography Mr. Johnson Copyright, Concept & Creation: Geetesh Bajaj
The student is expected to:
(A) analyze the effects of physical and human geographic factors on major events including the building of the Panama Canal ; and
(B) identify and explain reasons for changes in political boundaries such as those resulting from statehood and international conflicts.
The student understands the impact of geographic factors on major events.
Hook Imagine you are living on the East Coast in the early 20 th century. Your family is in the clothing business and wants to sell clothes to new stores in San Francisco. Of course, the clothes can’t be loaded on a plane - there aren't any planes. And trains are too expensive and unreliable for shipping goods.
Shortcut If a canal were built where the land between North America and South America is narrowest--across Panama--it could shorten the trip by nearly 8,000 miles.
Isthmus of Panama Panama is an isthmus , a narrow strip of land which has water on each side and connects two larger bodies of land.
So your family decides to send the clothes by ship around the tip of South America. The trip can easily take two months, and many ships (like the Olympia, pictured) are destroyed by terrible storms at Cape Horn. Rounding the Ho rn
Shortcut to San Francisco After looking at these pictures what do you think would be the challenges of trying to build a canal through a tropical jungle and mountains?
A tropical jungle may be a fascinating place for scientists to work, but for workers trying to build a canal it’s a nightmare. Imagine trying to dig out tons of dirt in a jungle like this. And there was no insect repellent to keep the bugs from biting. Panama rain forest
Early History - 1513 Vasco Nunez de Balboa crosses the isthmus of Panama and becomes the first European to see the Pacific Ocean in the Americas.
Early History – 1500’s
1524 Spanish explorer Hernan
Cortes suggests that a path
across the Isthmus of Panama
would be a great idea
1534 The King of Spain wants to build a canal through Panama
Although these people knew how beneficial to commerce it would be to create this they didn’t have the ability to do it
1835 - France is given a permit to build a canal across Panama. However first they have to come up with a plan to build the canal.
The effort lost over 20,000 men and cost over $287 million (1.5 billion francs). The French company was the greatest business failure of the 19th century.
Phillippe Bunau-Varilla Through extensive lobbying of businessmen, government officials, and the American public, Bunau-Varilla successfully convinced the U.S. Senate to appropriate $40 million to the New Panama Canal Company in the form of the Spooner Act of 1902. This flag was designed by Varilla based on the Flag of the United States as a tribute to the U.S. contribution to Panama's independence.
1904 - The United States
begins working on the Canal
1914 - The canal is completed
1977 - The United States signs a treaty with Panama and agrees to give Panama control of the canal in 1999.
The United States On November 2, 1903, the Columbian naval vessel Cartagena was deployed to Panama. The US warship Nashville, (left) with eight 4” guns, however, was able to force the ship to retreat. The Columbian garrison on Panama was bribed by US forces not to intervene. The next day Panama declared independence.
President Theodore Roosevelt Image Courtesy of: http://www.britannica.com/nobel/art/orooseh001p1.jpg He was determined to build a canal across Panama. It would expand trade, helps the United States fleet mobilize more easily for national defense, and show the world the United States was becoming a world power.
Why was it so important to build a canal? It is 1904. Feisty Theodore Roosevelt is president, and the United States is fast becoming one of the most powerful nations in the world. Such recent inventions as the Telephone, the aeroplane, and the automobile make the 3,000 mile wide country seem smaller.
“I took it…” “… the Panama Canal would not have started if I had not taken hold of it, because if I had followed the traditional or conservative method I should have submitted an admirable state paper to Congress… Accordingly I took the Isthmus, started the canal and then left Congress not to debate the canal, but to debate me." -- Theodore Roosevelt (pictured on steam shovel during 1906 visit)
The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans come within 45 miles of each other at Panama’s narrowest point.
So the United States is ready to do what seemed impossible-to join the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
But a major decision had to be made. Should the canal be built at sea level like the Suez Canal?
Or should it follow the natural rise of the land? This would mean building locks (to raise and lower ships as they pass through the canal). Locks this big had not yet been built. The decision was made in favor of having locks. Now they just had to figure out how to build them.
Drawn in 1903, this “Topographic, Diagramatic, and Illustrative Map of the Panama Canal” illustrates the project for U.S. readers. The top panel depicts the excavations done by the two French companies that began construction. The middle panel shows a profile of the project.
Building the Canal The next few pictures show what the area looked like when the French started building the canal. What challenges do you think they faced building a canal in this type of area?
The average yearly rainfall is about 80 inches. Flooding makes the ground like pudding, and you can sink up to your knees in mud. Tropical diseases, such as yellow fever and malaria are spread by mosquitoes. Working Conditions
The deepest excavation known as the Culebra Cut would have to be made through a verdant cloud forest, Panama’s section of the Continental Divide.
John P. Stevens Hired by Roosevelt as chief engineer on the Stevens' primary achievement in Panama was in building the infrastructure necessary to complete the canal.
A railroad man, Stevens rebuilt the Panama Railway and devised a system for disposing of soil from the excavations by rail.
Given a nearly unlimited budget and authority, Stevens increased the size and scale of excavating equipment and had his medical officer eradicate the dreaded Yellow Fever mosquitoes.
Human toll 1909 Arrival of SS. Ancon with 1500 laborers from Barbados at the Cristobal Port in Colon, Panama Thousands of workers were hired, mostly from the Carribean. At least 25,000 of them were listed as having died from disease and injury.
Working Conditions Imagine working on the Panama Canal. By noon the temperature is about 100 degrees. It’s humid-so humid that after it rains steam rises from the ground and your clothes become soaking wet. There is no shade, no air-conditioning, and no place to get cool.
Photo courtesy of: www.canalmuseum.com As one worker said, “There was no shelter from the sun or the rain. There were no trees, and when the sun shines, you get it. When the rain falls you get it.”
The building of the canal Photo courtesy of: www.canalmuseum.com
Building the giant locks Photos Courtesy of www.panamacanal.com
Photo from the Canal Zone Brats www.czbrats.com
Building the giant lock gates Courtesy of: http://www.canalmuseum.com/photos/panamacanalphoto026.htm
Canal opening - 1914 When the Panama Canal opened officially on August 15, 1914, the world scarcely noticed. German troops were driving across Belgium toward Paris; the newspapers relegated Panama to their back pages. The S.S. Cristobal (above) makes a test run through the canal on August 4, 1914, eleven days before the official opening.
August 15, 1914 The Panama Canal officially opens with the inaugural passage of the S.S. Ancon.
Miraflores locks Time-lapse cam of a week’s traffic.
Pedro Miguel locks Birds Eye View Of the Construction Site At Pedro Miguel Locks - 1913
Lake Gatun Once the largest manmade lake in the world, at 422 square kilometers Lago Gatún is still a plenty impressive body of water. It was formed by damming the Río Chagres near its mouth, at Gatún, and is an integral part of the Panama Canal. Ships wait in Gatun Lake for passage through locks.
Gatun Locks Under construction Feb. 15, 1910
Panamax The largest ships able to go through the canal are described as being of Panamax size.
How the Panama Canal works Image Courtesy of: http://www.panamacanal-cruises.com/panama-canal-pictures/crosssections.jpg
A lock is a part of a canal with gates at each end where boats are raised or lowered to different water levels.
The ship goes through a set of gates into a lock chamber. The water in the chamber is still at sea level. Then more water comes pouring into the chamber through valves.
The ship rises like a toy boat in a bathtub. When the water rises high enough, the ship passes through a second set of gates and enters a small lake. It goes to the next lock and the water is raised again.
Today, ships get stuck in traffic jams because there are so many of them and they often have to wait up to 20 hours to go through the canal. Panama Canal
Post-Panamax In 2006, Panama voters approved a $5.25 billion plan to expand and modernize the canal. The project includes two new sets of single-lane, three-step locks: one set at the Atlantic entrance and one at the Pacific
Since it now takes 52 million gallons of rainwater to put a ship through the Panama Canal, water-conserving reservoirs are being built as part of the upgrade for the third channel.