August 15, 2010

Panama Canal officially opened – 1914

After ten years of work, the 48-mile (77 km) canal was completed, linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and cutting in half the trip from the East Coast of the U.S. to the West Coast.

Digging the canal was a huge and difficult engineering project. The French tried to build a canal in the late 1800s, and 21,900 workers died (mostly from tropical diseases) before they finally gave up the effort. The U.S. canal construction wasn't as deadly, but 5,600 workers lost their lives before the canal was finished.

Did you know...?

It takes from eight to ten hours to travel the canal.

The maximum size of ship that can use the canal is called Panamax.

Although the Pacific Ocean is west of the Atlantic, crossing from the Pacific to the Atlantic involves going the opposite you would think: from (south)east to (north)west. This is because the narrow chunk of land where the canal is built is a sort of “S” curve.

Word Play

Do you know what a palindrome is? It is a word or phrase that reads the same backwards or forwards. The words “mom” and “level” are both palindromes.

The Panama Canal is the subject of one of the longest and most famous palindromes:


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