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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Panama Canal

On our vacation we went to Panama for a week, and one day visited the Panama Canal. We got there just when a ship was coming in. We stood there watching as the ship very slowly went towards the door that was holding back more water. The ship had a train on each side of it, keeping it from hitting the sides (all ships coming in have to be at least two feet from the side of the canal, otherwise it is too big. When it got to the big doors, the water drained from the other side and leveled out. The doors opened and the ship went through. The doors were still the original doors because they have been kept in very good condition. Oncethe ship got through the doors, they closed and the water level changed again. After that we went into the visitor center-museum place and saw how it worked and everything. It told history about how the canal and locks were made, and it even had the bell from the first ship that went through the locks. We learned that the cheapest anyone's had to pay to go through them was only around 36 cents (it was a long time ago, and the person swam through). Usually it costs an average ship about 30,000 dollars to go through the locks.
The French started a waterway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in 1880, but they failed because of sickness and financial problems. When Panama gained independence from Colombia in 1903, they made an agreement with the U.S. to make a canal. The canal was finished in 1914. 200 million cubic meters of material were removed to make the canal.
They are expanding the canal for bigger ships, and is expected to be completed in 2014. It will have some new locks, and the canal will be deeper and wider in some places.
The canal takes a lot of maintenance, and Panama does not make very much money from it. They have to keep the canal the right depth and clean a lot of things. The Panama canal was interesting to see work.


1 comment:

  1. I got to go through this on a Navy ship back in 2003. After completing a mountain of paperwork, it would be many long slow hours of transit and the initial fascination wore off quickly. Would have much rather seen it from your perspective!