The tidal range between theAtlanticand Pacific end of the canal was significant “20 feet at the Pacific, whereas, the Atlantic range was only about 1 foot” (The Panama Canal). This had the potential to become very dangerous for navigators, a solution in the form of tidal locks (see Map) were built to overcome this danger.
Hence the construction process was laborious and solutions had to be come up with as more and more problems were encountered. Soon the French company started running short on funds. Many workers began to die due to rampant disease, mosquitoes and inadequacy of health facilities. Criticism of the French escalated- they were largely seen to have failed at the project. “However, they had excavated a total of 59.75 million cubic metres which included 14.255 million cubic metres from theCulebra Cut. This lowered the peak by 102 metres. The value of work completed by the French was about $ 25 million.” (ThePanama Canal)
By 1899 the French left. There were multiple reasons for their departure. According to most historians it was the rampant disease in the region and especially because these diseases were new for the French and poorly tolerated by them. “As many as 20,000 died before de Lesseps gave up in 1889” (The Panama Canal: The Crisis in Historical Perspective) Also, the French had begun to run out of funds to continue financing the project, hence they were running into debts and could ill-afford new machinery.
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