15.08.

1915: Panama Canal Opens after 27,500 People Die during its Construction

1915: Panama Canal Opens after 27,500 People Die during its Construction
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 15 August 1915
  • It was the greatest American engineering venture to date and is considered to be one of the wonders of the industrial age. Around 2.3 million cubic meters of earth were excavated each month during the construction process, a volume equivalent to digging the entire English Channel Tunnel in three-and-a-half months.

One of the most important ship canals in the world, the one bisecting the state of Panama in Central America, was declared open on this day.

The Panama Canal was the greatest American engineering venture to date and is considered to be one of the wonders of the industrial age.

Around 2.3 million cubic meters of earth were excavated each month during the construction process, a volume equivalent to digging the entire English Channel Tunnel in three-and-a-half months. The construction process also involved the building of what was at the time the largest dam in the world.

The opening ceremony was held on this day in 1914, and was intended to be a truly grandiose spectacle. However, the Great War had broken out in Europe two weeks ago, and everyone’s attention was focused on war-related events.

The ceremony was therefore not quite as grandiose as was originally planned. The steamer SS Ancon (length 149.2 meters), was the first ship that passed through the canal, on the same day as the Canal was opened. Captain John A. Constantine became the first person to pilot a ship through the Canal.

A horrifying but less-known fact is that 27,500 workers died during the Canal’s construction. This also testifies to the difficulty and magnitude of the Canal construction project.

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