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August 1, 2011 / jmeuropeana

Panama Canal opens

On the 1st of August –

In 1914 the Panama Canal is opened. Constructing the 77-kilometer shipping connection between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean cost 27.000 lives – most succumbing to landslides, malaria and yellow fever. After an initial French attempt (death toll 21.000) between 1880 and 1892 under Ferdinand de Lesseps, it was American engineers Wallace, Stevens and in particular George W. Goethals who succeeded between 1902 and 1914 – at a cost of an additional 5.800 lives.
Le canal interocéanique de Panama - 1880 - Vue des diverses localités que doit traverser le canal
Ferd. de Lesseps ; Lafosse, 1865 ; Pierre Petit photog. ;

George W. Goethals

As part of an exhibition dedicated to the opening of the canal a nice booklet was produced – all-American marketing:
Panama canal, Panama-Pacific international and Panama-California expositions;

Here’s a nice titbit of information that will earn you some points in QI: ships passing through the canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific sail west, not east as you would expect.


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