Canal ahead

Seems we are lucky this time around. The lecturer on the Panama Canal, in addition to knowing his subject, has a good sense of humor and a decent slide set. Probably doesn’t hurt that he, Emilie Baladi, just happens to be an engineer. I had wondered during the presentations I heard back in 2012, why the canal operation was turned over to railroad CEOs when taken over by the US. Explained, it was obvious. This is 1905. There are no trucks. There are no major roads across the US. All major hauling of goods for long distance was either by ship or by rail. The canal was to shorten the sea journey by thousands of miles. To do so required effectively digging a large ditch. Huge ditch as a matter of fact. All that dirt had to go somewhere. 


No trucks. So everything removed was going to have to be hauled out by rail. And tracks laid, extended, relocated over and over. Hence the railroad men. And who else in the United States had the experience of digging out beds, putting down rails, blasting out passes …. but the railroad?


I think last time we also skipped over the fact that for the first two years of the US attempt to build the canal it got no where due to disease, accidents and the same plan as the French. Turns out you just can’t do a sea level canal through the middle of the country when there is a small issue of lakes being at a higher elevation than sea level. After the decision was finally made to create locks progress was finally made.  Along with mosquito control and decent housing for the workers.


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