Dr Chris Ware
One hundred years ago today ( 15 August) the Panama Canal was opened to traffic, no longer would vessel have to round Cape Horn against prevailing Westerly wind instead they would transit the 49 miles from Atlantic( Caribbean) to Pacific. The idea not new would only be realised at the end of the 19th Century when first the French sort drive a series of cuts and locks across the Isthmus, this first effort would end in Bankruptcy and a large death total, upward of 22,000 died from fever.
It would be the United States which would, in 1904, take over the project and take a lease on a strip land across Panama, and complete the work by 1914.This allowed the American’s to move the Warships from the Atlantic to the Pacific and allowed the increasing trade of the West Coast of the US to follow East and vice versa. Now the Canal is being widened and there is talk that Nicaragua is looking to build a canal. % 25 percent of the world tonnage is built to Panamax standard, ships which can transit the Canal, however less than 2% per year actually do so, the remodel Canal will allow large ships with better hull forms to be built and run. If the Pharos of Alexandria and the Colossus of Rhodes were wonders of the ancient world, the Panama Canal stand as one of the engineering wonders of the 20th century and beyond.