In 2015, one of the many ports on our Ultimate Caribbean Cruise was Colon, Panama.
We visited the Gatun Locks and were lucky to see a cargo ship making the transit of the locks.
With the ever-increasing sizes of cargo and passenger ships, the existing locks weren’t wide enough … Example: Our Cruise Ship, the Celebrity Equinox, was too wide to transit the existing locks.
Our next tour was the Panama Canal Expansion project (the first expansion since the original Canal was completed in August 1914)
Hubs wasn’t sure if this tour would be worth the time and money. I reminded him that we would be witnessing history in the making. I explained, “Vast numbers of people after us will either transit the new locks, or visit them in their completed state on tours. In the big picture of time, not too many would have actually witnessed the construction”.
After looking at it from this perspective, Hubs agreed that it was well worth our time and money.
The original Canal took approximately 33 years to complete (from the time the French started construction in 1888), and that in itself, was a feat … considering the limited technology/machinery at the time. 5,609 lives were lost during the construction – mostly from disease.
The expansion project took 9 years to complete – all with the aid of modern technology and machinery. 7 workers’ lives were lost during this project.
We were in awe as we watched the massive concrete gates being lifted into position, and as we scanned the horizon filled with excavations and huge machinery, we tried to imagine how the original locks were built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s without all of this equipment!
“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”
― Michael Crichton