Panama Canal Essay

Words: 1653
Pages: 7

The Panama Canal has been called the big ditch, the bridge between two continents, and the greatest shortcut in the world. When it was finally finished in 1914, the 51-mile waterway cut off over 7,900 miles of the distance between New York and San Francisco, and changed the face of the industrialized world ("Panama Canal"). This Canal is not the longest, the widest, the deepest, or the oldest canal in the world, but it is the only canal to connect two oceans, and still today is the greatest man-made waterway in the world ("Panama Canal Connects).

Ferdinand de Lesseps, who played a large role in building the Suez Canal in 1869 (Jones), was the director of the Compagnie Universelle Du Canal Interoceanique de Panama ("Historical
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One fear was the canal attempt fail due to overspending and no funding. So the US congress set up a Commission where the chief engineer's requests would be confirmed through the Commission (Jones).

During the US construction there was three chief engineers who made a major impact on the canal.

The first was John F. Wallace, an American civilian engineer (Jones). He was elected and arrived at the isthmus by June 1904 (Considine). Before much of the work could be done Wallace began on fixing the problems of the French. New railroad tracks needed to be laid due to the old ones being so narrow. The tracks were just too narrow for American railroad cars. This type of work called "The Red tape" was a major set back. Almost a year passed before American machinery being used due to the time it took the ordered equipment to arrive. Wallace went back to the US to complain to Roosevelt about the timelines and the way the simplest "necessities" (Jones) would take forever to arrive. Wallace, who was temporary, satisfied, traveled back to the canal only to be caught up in a major yellow-fever epidemic. After a few months Wallace gave vice President William Taft his resignation.

Second Panama Canal Chief Engineer was hired in less then a day of Wallace's resignation. John Stevens was selected to replace Wallace by the Commission in July of 1905. Stevens, another American civilian engineer, wanted a lock canal. He informed all men to start working on the machinery left by