|Ships waiting to enter the canal.|
|Tugs coming out to meet the ship.|
|Entering Gatun Locks|
|See the rowboat?|
|Entering Gatun Lake|
The canal itself is amazing. It is almost 50 miles long and takes about 12 hours to cross. We sailed from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Gatun Locks consist of three chambers that take ships by steps up to the level of Gatun Lake. Ships then sail through the canal, including the narrowest part (and most difficult to construct) the Culebra Cut to Pedro Miguel lock which consists of a single chamber that takes the ship down one step closer to sea level. The last set of locks are at Miraflores and consist of two chambers that bring the ship back to sea level. While sailing through the canal ships pass islands that used to be the tops of mountains which were flooded after the building dams to form the canal and control the river and tides. One of these islands is Barro Colorado which is home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. It's possible that I've simplified this to the point of barely being accurate; please read the book (and sail through the canal!) for more details.
Here is a description of the lock chambers from page 550-551 (Nook version):
The walls, one thousand feet long, rose to eighty-one feet, or higher than a six-story building. The impression was of looking down a broad, level street nearly five blocks long with a solid wall of six-story buildings on either side; only here there were no windows or doorways, nothing to give human scale. . . A single lock if stood on end would have been the tallest structure in the world, taller even than the Eiffel Tower. . . The lock chambers all had the same dimensions (110 by 1,000 feet) and they were built in pairs, two chambers running side by side in order to accommodate two lanes of traffic. . . The chambers in each pair shared a center wall that was sixty feet wide from bottom to top.
|In the Culebra Cut.|
The Panama Canal is an amazing feat of engineering. It cost many lives, made and ruined careers, and ended up costing the Americans less money than estimated in 1907. (page 570) It was a successful partnership of private enterprise and the government without corruption or graft. (page 571)
|The canal is constantly being dredged.|
|Water drains from the Pedro Miguel lock.|
|There was only two feet on either side between the ship and the chamber wall.|
|The mule and the lines attached to the ship.|
|Crocodiles aren't charged a toll|
|Leaving the canal|