Digging the Panama Canal 1904-1914Digging the Panama Canal
With the defeat of Spain in the Spanish-AmericanWar, the U.S. was thinking nothing was impossiblethe country. In short, we were beginning to feel a little ‘cocky’.
After his big success in the Spanish-American War, ournew President in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt had plenty of confidence that the U.S. could be a major world power.
Roosevelt knew that now that the U.S. had territories to protect around the world that it would be easier to do if U.S. ships could travel faster from theAtlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It would also mean businesses on each side of the U.S. could ship large items to the other faster than ever before! However, land blocked the path between oceans.
One country though was only 51 miles wide at it’s most narrow point-the small country of Panama. The U.S.president began to form a plan to get Panama to agree tolet the U.S. dig a big canal through their isthumus country.
Panama agreed that we would pay them a lot of money and the digging began. This is the first ‘cut’ into the earth by the U.S. into the country of Panama. Notice all the railroad tracks and cars. What were they for?
Building the Panama Canal was a HUGE project. Dams had to be built on both sides to control the flow of waterallowed into the canal from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
This huge dam would hold back the Pacific Ocean waters.
Certain hard areas of ground had to be exploded. Danger was everywhere.
The U.S. paid for the best equipment money could buy. This steam shovel dug faster than many men could by hand.
This two minute video shows real camera footage of the Panama Canal being built.• http://www.unitedstreaming.com/search/assetD
Mosquitoes were such a huge problem and danger forworkers that they had to be poisoned for constantly. These carts were used for spraying.
Just like during the Spanish-American War, mosquitoes were horrible and they killed many canal workers.
This 45 second segment shows howmosquitoes slowed the Canal’s construction.• http://www.unitedstreaming.com/search/assetD
Sometimes it seemed the canal would never get built! It was just sohuge and so much of the work was slow, hard work. Imagine digging a ditch 51 miles long (The distance from here to Birmingham) and a couple of football fields wide!
Finally in 1914, after 10 years and 40,000 men working and millions of dollars of equipment used, the canal was finished!
Today, more than 50 ships a day passthrough the canal. It is a slow ride that takes 24 hours.
The United States operated the canal for almost 100 yearsbut in 1977 President Jimmy Carter signed and agreement to give the canal to Panama on Jan 1, 2000.U.S. President Jimmy Carter signs agreement to give the Canal to Panama in 1977.