Experience Panama - Seven Wonders Of The World

August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal was officially opened by the passing of the SS Ancon. At the time, no single effort in American history had exacted such a price in dollars or in human life. The American expenditures from 1904 to 1914 totaled $352,000,000, far more than the cost of anything built by the United States Government up to that time. Together the French and American expenditures totaled $639,000,000. It took 34 years from the initial effort in 1880 to actually open the Canal in 1914.

Episode 5: The Panama Canal, by BBC

This episode presents the French and American efforts to build a canal through Panama to link the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. The first attempt to construct the canal by Ferdinand de Lesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal, was abandoned because of tropical diseases (which killed over 22,000 men) and the difficulty of constructing a sea-level canal through the mountains. The resulting financial scandals not only ruined de Lesseps and many investors, it also brought down the French government. The episode then takes up the story seventeen years later when the United States took up the challenge. A concentrated effort succeeded in eradicating the causes of the tropical diseases, but the attempt to build a sea-level canal once again failed. Instead the canal was built with locks.

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