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The Panama Canal

Listed under Industrial in Panama City, Panama.

  • Photo of The Panama Canal
  • Photo of The Panama Canal
  • Photo of The Panama Canal
  • Photo of The Panama Canal
  • Photo of The Panama Canal
  • Photo of The Panama Canal
  • Photo of The Panama Canal
Photo of The Panama Canal
Photo by Donna Dawson
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This canal is really a marvel in engineering. Nothing has been changed since the original design. The locks have worked perfectly since day one. It is fascinating to be on a ship going through the locks. You wait your turn to enter and sometimes depending on the ship size, they might have more than one scheduled to go through. Such was the day when we went through the locks. We just did two sets, the Gatun and Miraflores. The lock chambers are huge, but not a huge as the new panamex ships – that is why they are building a new lane – to accommodate these monstrous ships.

Right now when you see a ship in the lock, it can fill the whole width of 33.53 meters by a few feet. The maximum right now for ships is 32.3 meters in beam. To be up close and personal with a huge container ship makes you feel incredibly tiny in the scheme of things. Each lock is 304.8 meters long, that is almost 1000 feet long! The longest a ship can be is 294.1 meters long. To think that this huge chamber can drain from one level to the next in about 8 minutes is mind boggling. Being on a ship in a lock draining is really something to witness. The gates are huge, thick and move without a sound. When you are standing at the Miraflores viewing center you are only feet away from these ships lowering. By the way, the viewing center has an excellent historical recount of how the canal was built, showing all of the machinery they used and all kinds of historical photos.

Today the canal has a work force of approximately 9,000 employees and operates 24/7, 365 days a year. Because the ships are so huge they have ships going in one direction for part of the day and then it reverses so ships can go in the other direction for the rest of the day. How do I know this? Because we live in Panama City!

Written by  Donna Dawson.

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The Panama Canal

One of man’s largest intentional alterations to the earth, the 80km Panama Canal linking Panama City on the Pacific to Colón on the Atlantic was first suggested in the 17th Century but wasn’t completed until the 20th. A feat of engineering and a marvel for trade, the project cost around 27,500 lives. More than 14,000 ships use this shortcut each year.

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