Monday, August 18, 2014

Panama Canal is Open -- August 18, 2014

I missed the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal last Friday.  The article is from the 16-August-1914 Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The postcard shows the tug Gatun making the first trip through the Upper Gatun Locks.  This is not the same event described in the story. 




The Panama Canal is open to the commerce of the world.  An Associated Press wireless message received by the Star-Bulletin at 11 o'clock this morning said:

"PANAMA, Ang. 15. The Panama Canal is open. The steamer Ancon," a 10,000-ton vessel belonging to the war department, was the first to pass through the waterway. She passed the' Gatun locks in 70 minutes."

According to the advance arrangements. Governor-Goethals of the Canal Zone, President Porras of the Republic of Panama, and a party of officials were aboard the Ancon and after the passage the canal began its regular business.

The total cost of the Panama canal will be about $375,000,000. The length from deep water in the Atlantic to deep water in the Pacific is 50 miles.  The minimum depth will be 40 feet, the maximum depth 45 feet.

Over 5,000,000 cubic yards of concrete were used in the construction and a force of men averaging 39,000 were employed.

There are 12 locks, each with a chamber 10 feet wide and 1000 feet long. The gates are opened and closed by electricity. The boats are hauled through the canal by the same power.

Gatun lake, the highest part of the canal, is 85 feet above sea level. The level of both oceans, is the same, but there is a 20-foot tide on the Pacific side, while on the Atlantic side there is only a two-foot tide.

Time required to pass, through the canal is about 12 hours. In a voyage from New York to San Francisco the canal will save 8000 miles, says the Boys' Magazine.

The cost of operating the canal will be about $4,000,000 each year and over 2500 employees will be required. The business of supplying coal and provisions and the repair facilities will be wholly in the hands of the government.  The traffic will be under the jurisdiction of the Interstate commission.

Freight rates will be $1.20 a ton, passengers free; the rates charged vessels are the same as those at Suez.  At the $1.20 rate the canal is expected to be self-supporting for a number of years. The annual average tonnage as estimated will be about 10,000,000 tons for the first few years and the income necessary to pay interest on the money invested and meet expenses will be about $ 15,000,000.

Warships of all nations may pass through the canal, but they cannot linger at either entrance for a longer period than 24 hours.


First digging by Americans May 4, 1904, taking over the rights and property of the French Canal Company and obtaining necessary concession from the Republic of Panama.

First union of Atlantic and Pacific waters -- Blowing up of the Gamboa dike, when President Wilson touched an electric button, in Washington, October 10, 1913.

First boat of any kind to make transisthmian passage -- A nameless mud scow of the Panama railroad, which passed from the Pacific entrance to Culebra out in November, 1913, and was sent to the Atlantic entrance in December, 1913.

First vessel to steam through canal -- The crane boat Alexander La Valley, an old French boat of 1200 tons, which passed from the Atlantic to the Pacific on January 7, 1914.

First vessel- to pass completely around South America by way of the canal was the tug Reliance, Captain R. C. Thompson. which sailed from Colon February 11, 1912, voyaged for 500 miles (too small? - JT) around South America and returned to the Atlantic ocean through Gatun locks February 1, last.

PANAMA. Aug. 15- The Canal Zone was the scene of much activity last night in preparation for the formal opening of the canal to commerce today. Everything has been done to have the great work complete when the ceremonies in connection with the event commence.

The war department S. S. Ancon will carry the official party through the locks, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Aboard the ,steamer will be Governor Goethals, at the head of the Zone government, and the men who had charge of the greater part of the construction, accompanied by President Porras of the Republic of Panama, the members of the Panamanian cabinet and other Panama and American officials. The Ancon will be commanded by Capt. G. K. Sukeforth. 

The Ancon will carry a full cargo and will have the honor of being the first Vessel through the canal not running in connection with construction work or lock testing. She is a 10,000 ton steamer.

During the opening ceremonies all other traffic will be suspended, but the regular work of passing steamers will commence in the afternoon. A number of vessels at each entrance of the canal are ready to pass through.

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