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The Panama Canal The Panama Canal was one of the greatest accomplishments by mankind in my opinion Among the great peaceful endeavors of mankind that have contributed significantly to progress in the world the construction of the Canal stands as an awe-inspiring achievement The idea of a path between North and South America is older than their names In 1534 Charles I of Spain ordered the first survey of a proposed canal route through the Isthmus of Panama More than three centuries passed before the first construction was started The French labored 20 years beginning in 1880 but disease and financial problems defeated them httpwwwhistorychannelcom In 1903 Panama and the United States signed a treaty by which the United States undertook to construct an interoceanic ship canal across the Isthmus of Panama The following year the United States purchased from the French Canal Company its rights and properties for 40 million and began construction The monumental project was completed in ten years at a cost of about 387 million Since 1903 the United States has invested about 3 billion in the Canal enterprise approximately two-thirds of which has been recovered The building of the Panama Canal involved three main problems engineering sanitation and organization Its successful completion was due principally to the engineering and administrative skills of such men as John F Stevens and Col George W Goethals and to the solution of extensive health problems by Col William C Gorgas httpwwwhistorychannelcom The engineering problems involved digging through the Continental Divide Also constructing the largest earth dam ever built up to that time designing and building the most massive canal locks ever envisioned constructing the largest gates ever swung and solving environmental problems of enormous proportions Disease in the forms of yellow fever and malaria put much of the work force in the hospitals or six feet underground Before any work could begin the most deadly of the problems on the isthmus
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