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Panama Canal Construction: "Through the Canal Bottom" 1912

more at http://news.quickfound.net/intl/panama_news.html

"Scenes of the Panama Canal under construction."

Public domain film from the Library of Congress Prelinger Archive, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and equalization.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Canal

The Panama Canal (Spanish: Canal de Panamá) is an 82-kilometre (51 mi) ship canal in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade.

Work on the canal, which began in 1880, was completed in 1914, making it no longer necessary for ships to sail the lengthy Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America and to navigate the dangerous waters of the Strait of Magellan. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the Panama Canal shortcut made it possible for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in half the time previously required. The shorter, faster, safer route to the U.S. West Coast and to nations in and along the Pacific Ocean allowed those places to become more integrated with the world economy.

Ownership of the territory that is now the Panama Canal was first Colombian, then French and then American before coming under the control of the Panamanian government in 1999. The Panama Canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships when it opened in 1914, to 14,702 vessels in 2008... By 2008, more than 815,000 vessels had passed through the canal, many of them much larger than the original planners could have envisioned; the largest ships that can transit the canal today are called Panamax. The American Society of Civil Engineers has named the Panama Canal one of the seven wonders of the modern world...

In 1904, the United States, under President Theodore Roosevelt, bought the French equipment and excavations for US$40 million, paid the new country of Panama US$10 million plus more each year, and began work on the Panama Canal on May 4, 1904. (In 1921, the United States paid Colombia US$10 million, plus US$250,000 per annum for several years; and in return Colombia recognized Panama under the terms of the Thomson-Urrutia Treaty)...

Chief Engineer John Frank Stevens envisioned this work as essentially a massive earth-moving project requiring using a new and expanded Panama Railway as efficiently as possible. Stevens previous work as Chief Engineer of the Northern Pacific Railroad where they had built several 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of track had prepared Stevens well for this task. Much of the excavated material was used to build part of the Gatun Dam and the new elevated railroad required to get across Gatun Lake...

The railroads, steam shovels, enormous steam-powered cranes, giant hydraulic rock crushers, cement mixers, dredges, and pneumatic power drills used to drill holes for explosives (about 30,000,000 pounds (14,000,000 kg) were used) were some of the new (in 1906) pieces of construction equipment used to construct the canal. Nearly all this equipment was manufactured by new, extensive machine-building technology developed and built in the United States. The giant hydraulic rock crushers supplied by the Joshua Hendy Iron Works were used to grind up rock needed for the cement work and quicken the pace of construction and large Ellicott Dredges of Baltimore, Maryland speeded up some of the various dredging projects. The first Ellicott Dredge delivered was a steam-driven, 900 hp (670 kW), 20-inch suction dredge used to help dig canal channels and fill Gatun Dam with dredged up slurry. In 1941, Ellicott Dredges also built the dredge MINDI, a 10,000 hp (7,500 kW), 28-inch cutter suction dredge still operating in the Panama Canal. Arch rivals General Electric and Westinghouse provided much of the electrical controls, motors, generators etc. The Panama Canal project had one of the largest and most extensive electrical installations in the world early in the 1900s. They use over 1000 electric motors with an installed capacity of about 28,000 horsepower to control their locks, valves, etc. from a central location

In addition, the canal used large refrigeration systems for making ice. The Panama Canal Locks used essentially no pumps but relied on giant electrical valves and gates to control the flow of water from Lake Gatun into and out of the locks through water tunnels the size of railroad tunnels...

The U.S. spent almost $375,000,000 (roughly equivalent to $8,600,000,000 now), including $12,000,000 to build facilities used to guard the canal, to finish the project. This was, by far, the largest American engineering project of that or any previous era.The canal was formally opened on August 15, 1914 with the passage of the cargo ship SS Ancon...
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