Canal: Interesting History, Background, etc.??!!

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#1
Columbus, Ohio
18,649 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
From the Chicago Tribune in late December, they had this headline: "Panama's new canal: A plus for the Midwest, but also a triumph of human yearning" with these some of these interesting highlights: "In June, the banner could read: 'New and improved!'. Panama unveiled a $5 billion-plus new set of locks and channels to handle larger ships alongside the original canal. The new locks are longer — 1,400 feet — and wider — 180 feet — than the original 1,000-foot-long by 110-foot-wide canal, which opened more than a century ago. The new locks are also deeper, by 18 feet. Over the years, the canal — among the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, grew less wonderful. It couldn't accommodate the mammoth container vessels that move goods from food to clothing to cars between distant ports."

The writers cited this from the Los Angeles Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds, Sept. 18, 1994: "The Atlantic begins here, the Pacific over there, and between them lie 51 miles of deep ditch, aged machinery, steamy jungle, epic engineering, malarial history and murky politics. Every 45 minutes or so, another big boat floats past in the humidity, bearing oil or bananas or lumber or tourists through a 110-foot-wide passage of concrete and steel. This is the jewel that so many cruise-lovers are so eager to wear in their crowns."

Here are a few other info item that I view to be of value in preparing in early March for our first visit and trip through the Canal : "After a nine-year construction project, the canal can handle ships toting up to 14,000 containers, a vast improvement from the previous capacity of 5,000. The canal transformed Panama into a banking, trading and airline mecca and became one of the most lucrative and valuable tracts of real estate on Earth. That's why shipping still drives global commerce and global competition and is intense. Suez Canal officials finished work in 2015 on a new $4 billion parallel lane to accommodate two-way traffic on much of its 120 miles through Egypt. Chinese billionaire Wang Jing planned to build a canal three times as long and twice as deep in southern Nicaragua. But so far there are no visible signs of progress on this project."

Below are three graphics from the media profile in this Midwest newspaper. All of this background helps me better understand more on the Panama Canal, old and new, as to how it operated, its importance, etc.

Full Chicago Tribune story at:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/o...228-story.html

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


From our Jan. 25-Feb. 20, 2015, Amazon River-Caribbean combo sailing over 26 days that started in Barbados, here is the link below to that live/blog. Lots of great visuals from this amazing Brazil river and these various Caribbean Islands (Dutch ABC's, St. Barts, Dominica, Grenada, etc.) that we experienced. Check it out at:
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=2157696
Now at 46,918 views for these postings.


Here are three graphics from the Chicago Tribune website and related to their profile of the new Panama Canal.:







#2
3,029 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Hi Terry

We completed our second transit last November and loved it as much as the first. I think it is a great experience.

My recommendation is to read Path Between the Seas before you go. It helps to understand the hardships, politics, and engineering that went into the building of the canal.

There are also several documentaries about the canal.

I have had several people ask why we did it twice. I found the first time such a marvelous experience that I just couldn't absorb it all. Second time through I found myself learning details I had missed the first time.

And would I do it a third time? You bet!
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#3
Ontario
1,080 Posts
Joined Apr 2001
I agree about reading the Path Between the Seas. - absolutely fascinating.
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#4
Columbus, Ohio
18,649 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by diane.in.ny
Hi Terry. We completed our second transit last November and loved it as much as the first. I think it is a great experience. My recommendation is to read Path Between the Seas before you go. It helps to understand the hardships, politics, and engineering that went into the building of the canal. I have had several people ask why we did it twice. I found the first time such a marvelous experience that I just couldn't absorb it all. Second time through I found myself learning details I had missed the first time. And would I do it a third time? You bet!
Yes!! Appreciate these excellent reminders on getting this "The Path Between the Seas" book by David McCullough from 1977. Wow!! Didn't realize that it was 40 years ago that this book was written. But for covering this unique history from more than a hundred years ago, it still works well.

Have log on to our local library's website and have a reserved placed for this historic book. Will be getting it shortly and reading it!

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Enjoyed a 14-day, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure, getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139
for more info and many pictures of these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 167,241 views for this posting.
#5
Florida
5,563 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Terry and anyone else that just might wish to get down in the dirt and gain a bit more insight of what went into the construction of the Canal. That of course is not to say that McCullough's book is the book of record which probably just about everyone recommends. Have a look at The Panama Canal, The Invisible Wonder by Ron Armstrong, ( http://theinvisiblewonder.com/ ) Armstrong traveled to West Point Military Academy to assemble the photos in his book from the Col. Goethals collection which the Colonel donated to the West Point Library.

While I have seen many pictures of the Canal's construction, much of what is presented in Armstrong's book were new to me. The collection really underscores what a task the construction of the Canal, a monumental task today let alone over a hundred years ago. It is available in digital format depending on your device or in soft cover.
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#6
Columbus, Ohio
18,649 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by BillB48
Terry and anyone else that just might wish to get down in the dirt and gain a bit more insight of what went into the construction of the Canal. That of course is not to say that McCullough's book is the book of record which probably just about everyone recommends. Have a look at The Panama Canal, The Invisible Wonder by Ron Armstrong, ( http://theinvisiblewonder.com/ ) Armstrong traveled to West Point Military Academy to assemble the photos in his book from the Col. Goethals collection which the Colonel donated to the West Point Library. While I have seen many pictures of the Canal's construction, much of what is presented in Armstrong's book were new to me. The collection really underscores what a task the construction of the Canal, a monumental task today let alone over a hundred years ago. It is available in digital format depending on your device or in soft cover.
Appreciate this great link and the added details provided from this site. Did check it out fully. Did log on and look at our large metro area library, but they did not have this book available. Was temped to spend $15 for getting it on-line, but not ready now to make that financial commitment. Super loved the pictures which are very interesting and telling as to the scale of this project, especially 100+ years ago.

Keep up the great sharing. Very helpful!!

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 207,639 views.
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#7
Columbus, Ohio
18,649 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Just picked up yesterday from the library and started reading the David McCullough book titled "Path Between the Seas". Fascinating!!! It's really a very special history in the context of the shrinking world at that time as railroads and canal were being built, etc. And, the health and weather conditions there were really challenging. Love to be reading more about what an accomplishment was this project and all related aspects.

Below are some graphics showing the cover of this book, a picture of its author and then three different visuals from that period of the construction and its early use. Great to be learning so much more about this period of time and what it took to make it all happen.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


AFRICA?!!?: Lots of interesting and dramatic pictures can be seen from my latest live/blog at:
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=2310337
Now at 28,983 views for this reporting and visual sharing that includes Cape Town, all along the South Africa coast, Mozambique, Victoria Falls/Zambia and Botswana's famed Okavango Delta area.


From the Bing website's visual library, here are some pictures of the book cover, the author and three samples of the canal construction and its early use. Looking forward in early March to seeing it all "in person", "up close and personal", etc.:













#8
3,029 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by TLCOhio
Fascinating!!! It's really a very special history in the context of the shrinking world at that time as railroads and canal were being built, etc. And, the health and weather conditions there were really challenging.
Yes, it really impressed on me the huge undertaking this was. Made me appreciate it all that more
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#9
Dublin, Ohio
9,364 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Originally posted by TLCOhio
Yes!! Appreciate these excellent reminders on getting this "The Path Between the Seas" book by David McCullough from 1977. Wow!! Didn't realize that it was 40 years ago that this book was written. But for covering this unique history from more than a hundred years ago, it still works well.

Have log on to our local library's website and have a reserved placed for this historic book. Will be getting it shortly and reading it!

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Enjoyed a 14-day, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure, getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139
for more info and many pictures of these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 167,241 views for this posting.
Terry, I hope that you are a fast reader. That is one long, and for me, overly wordy book. I am glad that I did get it even though I didn't make it all the way through.

I also really enjoyed Dr. Lew Deitch's book Cruising through the Panama Canal. He walks you through what you will see as you go through the Canal. He has sections for both directions so that you don't have to switch everything up and try to read backwards. I think this one is only available on Amazon, but the Kindle version was not expensive.

Finally, I purchased Anne Vipond's Panama Canal by Cruise Ship. Although there is a fair amount of "fluff", I like the foldout map and info on some of the ports of call.

I leave tomorrow for LA. We can chat when I get back if you want.
#10
9,722 Posts
Joined May 2009
I'm on the NCL Jewel 16-night Panama Canal cruise right now, Miami to LA. Our transit of the Canal last week was absolutely fantastic, and I'll write more when we get home. But I just want to say here that McCullough's The Path Between the Seas is a must-read for this. Really makes you appreciate just how incredible an undertaking this was and the magnitude of the accomplishment.

I also skimmed Deitch's book and did a great deal of reading right here on CC, in this forum. Bill and other Canal experts really helped make our transit a great experience. Thanks!!
#11
Columbus, Ohio
18,649 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by diane.in.ny
Yes, it really impressed on me the huge undertaking this was. Made me appreciate it all that more
Turtles06: I'm on the NCL Jewel 16-night Panama Canal cruise right now, Miami to LA. Our transit of the Canal last week was absolutely fantastic, and I'll write more when we get home. But I just want to say here that McCullough's The Path Between the Seas is a must-read for this. Really makes you appreciate just how incredible an undertaking this was and the magnitude of the accomplishment. I also skimmed Deitch's book and did a great deal of reading right here on CC, in this forum. Bill and other Canal experts really helped make our transit a great experience. Thanks!!
alwalaska: Terry, I hope that you are a fast reader. That is one long, and for me, overly wordy book. I am glad that I did get it even though I didn't make it all the way through. I also really enjoyed Dr. Lew Deitch's book Cruising through the Panama Canal. He walks you through what you will see as you go through the Canal. He has sections for both directions so that you don't have to switch everything up and try to read backwards. I think this one is only available on Amazon, but the Kindle version was not expensive. Finally, I purchased Anne Vipond's Panama Canal by Cruise Ship. Although there is a fair amount of "fluff", I like the foldout map and info on some of the ports of call. I leave tomorrow for LA. We can chat when I get back if you want.
Appreciate these wonderful follow-ups and the added information. Am loving the reading of David McCullough's fascinating book. Am over half-way and the "Revolution" is about to start in Panama. Should be completed with this "Paths" book by the weekend and my wife is waiting to read it. Great added options have been suggested. Keep this excellent sharing coming. Love to hear more and added suggestions.

Great to hear from Ann in Dublin. Good luck with your flights, travels, etc. Love to hear more. We depart Columbus Feb. 27 and will be closely following my e-mails and these CC boards. Don't be shy in updating your travel experiences.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


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#12
Columbus, Ohio
18,649 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Just finished last night the reading of the 617 pages of David McCullough's "Path Between the Seas". WOW! The details for what was involved a hundred years back is pretty amazing. And to think that most of the poured concrete for these huge locks and most of the steel hardware is still performing today is very amazing. Great engineering to build this canal, especially under the challenging topographic and tropical conditions that existed there in that jungle situation.

Below are three additional graphics that help in understanding this project, its terrain, the impact on world shipping, etc. Another key factor was the massive logistics to get all of the materials there for the construction, the housing and feeding of the work crews, etc., etc. There were no handy Home Depot or Lowe's in the neighborhood to pick up extra tools, bags of concrete, wood timbers, etc. It all had to be shipped in by boat, mostly from the port of New York City.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Enjoyed a 14-day, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure, getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139
for more info and many pictures of these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 169,571 views for this posting.


From the Bing website, here are three added graphics that might be of interest. First is a map from before the constructed started that reflects that the large lake seen there now was not originally there. It had to be built as a way to control the wild river there and provide a fresh water supply to operate these large locks. And the lake created was the largest ever built in the world at that time. Second is a cut-away view of the canal and its overall lay-out. See how big is the resulting Gatum Lake? Third shows, quickly, how the mileages distance were saved by the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914.:







#13
3,029 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by TLCOhio
Just finished last night the reading of the 617 pages of David McCullough's "Path Between the Seas". WOW! The details for what was involved a hundred years back is pretty amazing. And to think that most of the poured concrete for these huge locks and most of the steel hardware is still performing today is very amazing. Great engineering to build this canal, especially under the challenging topographic and tropical conditions that existed there in that jungle situation.

Below are three additional graphics that help in understanding this project, its terrain, the impact on world shipping, etc. Another key factor was the massive logistics to get all of the materials there for the construction, the housing and feeding of the work crews, etc., etc. There were no handy Home Depot or Lowe's in the neighborhood to pick up extra tools, bags of concrete, wood timbers, etc. It all had to be shipped in by boat, mostly from the port of New York City.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio



Glad you got to finish the book. I found having read it really enhanced my appreciation (and awe) of the Canal.
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#14
Columbus, Ohio
18,649 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by diane.in.ny
Glad you got to finish the book. I found having read it really enhanced my appreciation (and awe) of the Canal.
YES!! It was also very interesting to see the "politics" that was very tight and involved as to how the decisions got made as to whether it would be at a location in Nicaragua versus Colombia/Panama. And, then the big question/challenge for building a sea-level canal as the French planned . . . versus . . . the ultimate and more realistic plan that involved locks and a large lake to control that wild river, provide fresh water to operate the large lock chambers, etc.

Also, learned that a large number of the steam shovels and drilling equipment used on this project were made in Marion, Ohio, just 45 minutes north of of where we live in Columbus. And, that some very special and long-lasting special steel hardware items were crafted in Wheeling, W. Vir., just two hours to the east on Interstate 70 from where we live. The details on the electric motors by General Electric were also an added unique aspects as to how this complex project came together and worked.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Super loved Dubrovnik!!! See more details and lots of great visual samples/examples at this link. Have had over 34,799 views on this posting and appreciate those who have tuned-in and dropped by.
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1439227
#15
3,029 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by TLCOhio
YES!! It was also very interesting to see the "politics" that was very tight and involved as to how the decisions got made as to whether it would be at a location in Nicaragua versus Colombia/Panama. And, then the big question/challenge for building a sea-level canal as the French planned . . . versus . . . the ultimate and more realistic plan that involved locks and a large lake to control that wild river, provide fresh water to operate the large lock chambers, etc.

Also, learned that a large number of the steam shovels and drilling equipment used on this project were made in Marion, Ohio, just 45 minutes north of of where we live in Columbus. And, that some very special and long-lasting special steel hardware items were crafted in Wheeling, W. Vir., just two hours to the east on Interstate 70 from where we live. The details on the electric motors by General Electric were also an added unique aspects as to how this complex project came together and worked.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Super loved Dubrovnik!!! See more details and lots of great visual samples/examples at this link. Have had over 34,799 views on this posting and appreciate those who have tuned-in and dropped by.
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1439227
I thought the idea to dam the river and create Gatun Lake absolutely inspirational! If the engineer hadn't come up with that idea (I'm trying to remember ... Stevens?) I don't think they would have succeeded in building the canal.
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#16
Florida
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Joined Feb 2006
quote=diane.in.ny;52245373]I thought the idea to dam the river and create Gatun Lake absolutely inspirational! If the engineer hadn't come up with that idea (I'm trying to remember ... Stevens?) I don't think they would have succeeded in building the canal.[/quote]

When the US first started construction of the Canal a decision as to a sea level or lock canal had not been reached. At some point after Stevens assumed the chief engineer position he returned to Washington to argue for a lock canal. I guess you could say it was his idea.

The prospect of a lock canal at Panama had been discussed before, although it did not receive a serious look. Godin de Lépinay at the Interoceanic Canal Congress in Paris presented a plan that would damming the Chagres to form an artificial lake along with locks at each end. His plan would have created a lake that was 80' above sea level which is only 5' lower than the present Gatun Lake. His plan never received any serious discussion as de Lesseps would not hear of it.

By the late 1880s the French began work on a lock canal. While he was still opposed to a lock canal, that idea was "sold" to de Lesseps as a way to work towards a sea level canal.
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#17
Florida
5,563 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Could not find this earlier...

Below is the excavation of the first lock on the Atlantic side during the French effort. This area is about 8 miles south of the present day Gatun/Agua Clara Locks.

In the second illustration, Gatun Locks is on the left side and the excavation for the new locks is in the area of "Bohio Reach" is on the right side of the illustration.



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#18
Columbus, Ohio
18,649 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by diane.in.ny
I thought the idea to dam the river and create Gatun Lake absolutely inspirational! If the engineer hadn't come up with that idea (I'm trying to remember ... Stevens?) I don't think they would have succeeded in building the canal.
BillB48: When the US first started construction of the Canal a decision as to a sea level or lock canal had not been reached. At some point after Stevens assumed the chief engineer position he returned to Washington to argue for a lock canal. I guess you could say it was his idea. The prospect of a lock canal at Panama had been discussed before, although it did not receive a serious look. Godin de Lépinay at the Interoceanic Canal Congress in Paris presented a plan that would damming the Chagres to form an artificial lake along with locks at each end. His plan would have created a lake that was 80' above sea level which is only 5' lower than the present Gatun Lake. His plan never received any serious discussion as de Lesseps would not hear of it.
Appreciate this great question from Diane on the engineering choices for the "lake and locks" design approach used for the actual construction. Agree with the wise and very knowledgeable BillB48 as to the original credit going to the earlier Frenchman Godin de Lépinay for this eventual, smarter concept. Clearly the Suez Canal engineer from France, Ferdinand de Lesseps, was totally driven and only considering a sea-level canal for use in what would become Panama. Stevens was super key in getting things built and pushing strong on President Teddy Roosevelt to avoid trying a sea-level design. Stevens' major focus was on preparing the area, doing logistics, getting the railroad in better order, etc. Stevens knew that building the world's largest lake dam at that time, plus these very large locks were not exactly within his field of engineering expertise, etc. That was part of the reason that Stevens departed the project somewhat earlier than expected.

As I finished reading David McCullough's "Paths Between the Seas", there is no doubt that such a sea-level canal would have been a "Mission Impossible" challenge for building and operating. Glad that Roosevelt showed leadership in avoiding that option.

Great added discussions!! This really helps get us even more excited about our Feb. 28 sailing from Ft. Lauderdale on the Island Princess ship.

Below are three pictures of the Island Princess going through the Panama Canal in January. These visuals were taken by a passenger, Turtles06, on a NCL ship that was traveling right behind "our" ship.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 208,813 views.
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=1227923


Here are three pictures from Turtles06 as they were on a NCL ship in following the Island Princess as it did its passage in January through the locks of the Panama Canal.:







#19
3,029 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Terry, Yes, Stevens left early. He was a railroad engineer and I seem to remember seeing a documentary that said he spent two years cleaning up the area, building better housing, and as you said, getting the railroad working.

And before I forget, I want to tell you to keep watching as the ship comes out of the canal, past Panama City, even if it dark. Not going to get specific but the city was nothing like I expected.

We've done the canal twice. First time we exited during daylight. Second time we were delayed because a ship in front of us had engine trouble and they had to get tugs to push her out of the way. So we didn't finish the canal until after dark and the lights were on in the city.

And both times we told our MDR tablemates not to wait for us for dinner (we do traditional dining) because we didn't want to miss a minute of the canal experience. It turned out to be the right move both times because we would have missed leaving the canal.

I am so excited just writing about it. I think I'm going to have to put it on the bucket list for a third time
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#20
Florida
5,563 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Originally posted by diane.in.ny
Terry, Yes, Stevens left early. He was a railroad engineer and I seem to remember seeing a documentary that said he spent two years cleaning up the area, building better housing, and as you said, getting the railroad working.

And before I forget, I want to tell you to keep watching as the ship comes out of the canal, past Panama City, even if it dark. Not going to get specific but the city was nothing like I expected.

We've done the canal twice. First time we exited during daylight. Second time we were delayed because a ship in front of us had engine trouble and they had to get tugs to push her out of the way. So we didn't finish the canal until after dark and the lights were on in the city.

And both times we told our MDR tablemates not to wait for us for dinner (we do traditional dining) because we didn't want to miss a minute of the canal experience. It turned out to be the right move both times because we would have missed leaving the canal.

I am so excited just writing about it. I think I'm going to have to put it on the bucket list for a third time
Was this the Princess transit you were on? Looks like the date stamp is Feb 24 2015 at 1950 hrs. Always curious as to why she was at the locks so late. Wonder if Princess received any consideration in the daylight transit guarantee fee? Probably not... pretty sure all the mice type in the contract made sure no refunds or reductions were in order.

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