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Rail News: Intermodal

Panama Canal turns 100


The Panama Canal marked its 100th anniversary on Friday. On Aug. 15, 1914, the canal officially opened when the S. S. Ancon moved through the 48-mile international waterway, crossing from the Atlantic to Pacific ocean.

Between 1904 and 1913, more than 56,000 people were employed during the $375 million construction project, including more than 31,000 from the West Indies, 11,800 from Europe and 11,000 from the United States.

It takes a ship about 15 hours to traverse the canal through its three sets of locks, saving about 8,000 miles from a journey around South America's southern tip.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed a treaty that returned 60 percent of the Canal Zone to Panama in 1979. The canal and remaining territory was returned to Panamanian control on Dec. 31, 1999.

In September 2007, the Panama Canal Authority launched a $5.2 billion expansion project. Expected to be completed next year, the expansion will enable much larger ships to pass through the canal, dramatically increasing the amount of goods that can pass through the facility. As of Aug. 1, the project was about 78 percent completed and the third set of locks were about 73 percent finished.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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