Creation of the Panama Canal

Culebra Cut on the Panama Canal 1902. Image Source:

Imagine you lived in new York in 1850, you have read many newspaper articles about gold found in California and you want in. You sell everything you own and prepare for you’re voyage. You have three options to get there. you’re first option would be to buy a horse and a carriage and go arcos the mainland U.S to get there. The second option would be to go around the southernmost point of Africa. Both journeys have many danger’s. Going across the mainland there will be droughts, native Americans, harsh river crossings and bandits. If you decided to go around the Cape Froward there are huge storms, high waves pirate and you’re at sea for over a month. If only there was a much shorter way to get from the pacific to the Atlantic. People had found a 50 mile wide screech of land in central America  that was the only thing separating the pacific from the Atlantic. what people could do is  they could go to this screech of land by boat, take a train across it and hop on another boat on the other side. This was effective but it would much quicker and more efficient to not have to go on the train and get on another boat but to keep going from one side to the other on some sort of waterway.

Just like for the construction of the Panama Canal, non-white lives are expendable again | The Milwaukee Independent 1902

In France, 1850 there was a man named Ferdinand de Lesseps  who had a similar problem. India at the time was a very important trade hub and the only way to get there by sea was to go around the southernmost point of Africa but just like in the Americas there was a small screech of land that would cut the journey time in half. Through this area he made a canal, a small man made body of water. He was horned when he got back to France and treated like a king so he thought that he could build a canal to help the Americas. On paper the protect was easier than it really was. The country was filled with nasty animals, extremely hot weather disease and harsh jungle. The French tried and failed at making the canal from 1881 to 1889. 20,000 people died of causes like heat stroke, malaria, and dehydration. In the end the French plan did not work and they had to cancel the protect.

“panama canal” by dsasso is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In 1900 America started to have an interest in the rout through the Americas  to connect the Atlantic and the pacific. It took them a long time to decide, but president Theodore Roosevelt wanted to make it happen. In 1906 America started where France left off. The job took a long time and was very difficult. The Americans had the same problems as  France and Many people died. It was brutal for the people working there. Many died and many more were wounded. the Americans exploded the mountains with TNT instead of digging through them like the French. This was more effective but most dangerous for the workers. In the end 32000 died while working on the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal was one of the first steps for America to place itself as a world power and changed the business of trade forever.