It is approximately 51 miles long and goes through important landmarks like the Gatun Lake and Culebra Cutand the Bridge of the Americas. The idea of cutting land to build a passageway was elegantly simple and apt. While theoretically it seemed straightforward, the construction of the canal was fraught with challenges. “The building of the Panama Canalinvolved three main problems — engineering, sanitation, and organization. Its successful completion was due principally to the engineering and administrative skills of such men as John F. Stevens and Col. George W. Goethals, and to the solution of extensive health problems by Col. William C. Gorgas.” (Panama Canal)
“The engineering problems involved digging through the Continental Divide; constructing the largest earth dam ever built up to that time; designing and building the most massive canal locks ever envisioned; constructing the largest gates ever swung; and solving environmental problems of enormous proportions”. (Panama Canal)
The French were the first ones to formally commence building of the canal. They first started work in 1881 headed by de Lessop. This was the same person who had been instrumental in the building of theSuez Canal. However, the process of constructing thePanama Canalwas fraught with a whole new set of problems. They encountered multiple challenges: the excavation was started but there were no tracks available to remove the debris; later landslides became a problem.
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