Central America / See

[see] An Engineer’s Wet Dream: Panama Canal

The is the third in the Engineer’s Wet Dream series whereby I visit engineering wonders on my travels, and I have to say this may be the coolest of them all (so far). Sure, you may be staring at nothing for most of the time, and sure the ships take FOREVER to get to the Miraflores Locks but when they do come in, it is the coolest thing ever.

Here are some fun facts about the Panama Canalย that may interest you. Or not. Depends if you’re as nerdy as I am.

1. Nicaragua was the original location of the Panama Canal (Nicaragua Canal doesnโ€™t have the same ring does it?), but a stock crash in the United States ended those plans.
2. The canal saves 7,872 miles on a trip from New York to San Francisco. That’s like flying from Melbourne to Los Angeles (7,946 miles).
3. More than 60 million pounds (~ 27 million kg) of dynamite was used to excavate the ground where the canal is constructed, and more than 4.5 million cubic yards (~ 3.4 million m3) of concrete went in to the construction of the locks and dams.
4. During construction, 20,000 lives were lost when the canal was under French control, compared to 5,609 (80% of them were Black) lives lost when the canal was under United States control.
5. An estimated 96 to 104 workers, of the 21,000 odd workers on the job, were killed during the construction of the dam. And no, none of them died being encased in concrete.
6. The lock of the Panama Canal are seven feet (~ 2.1 m) thick. Thatโ€™s equivalent to two of the primary crusher building floor slab I constructed in Zambia.
7. An average of 40 ships transit through the canal on any single day. 65 ships made it through the canal on February 29, 1968.
8. The American Society of Civil Engineers designated the Canal as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World AND a Monument of the Millennium.

[Source: Various online sources]

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Panama Canal – Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre

Tickets are US$15 each and gives you entry into the museum. Be sure to visit the Interoceanic Museum in Casco Viejo before going to the lock.

a: Canalside, Panama City
w: www.pancanal.com

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