July 19, 2014

Most of the tours of the Panama Canal take a boat through the first three locks of the canal and stop half way through at Gamboa, getting a bus ride back to Panama City. Once a month, the boat goes end to end, from Pacific to Atlantic, taking in the entire 50 mile length of the canal. Luckily, the full tour went on the weekend I was in town, so I was able to experience the entire length.

The Panama Canal excavation work was started by a French company in 1881. They proposed to dig a canal at sea level from Pacific to Atlantic. They experienced severe problems in blasting through the mountain areas, especially in the Gaillard Cut. The company went bankrupt in 1894 and work ceased. Over 22,000 men lost their lives from explosions, landslides and diseases, such as malaria. The U.S. government proposed to use the work done by the French company, but complete three locks on either end to raise ships, plus build a dam on Gatun Lake to raise water levels, so that the canal would not have to be dug so deep from coast to coast. The Americans began work in 1804 and completed the Panama Canal in 1814, with the first ship going through on August 15th. The Americans maintained the canal zone land and a military presence there until 1999, when the Canal was officially transferred to the country and people of Panama.

The tour and Panama Canal start at Amador Causeway by Panama City on the Pacific Ocean through two locks at the Miraflores Locks, and one at Pedro Miguel, into the 7 mile Gaillard Cut, which is just wide enough to handle one way of traffic. The canal continues through Gatun Lake until it reaches the final three locks at Gatun Locks, where boats then enter the Atlantic Ocean and the coastal town of Colón.

Part 1 of the Panama Canal Tour takes us from the Amador Causeway through Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks.

Above: Sunrise over the Amador Causeway, on the western edge of Panama City.

Below: Picture 1, getting up before sunrise to be ready for the 6 a.m. tour bus.
Pictures 2 to 6 are various stages of sunrise along the Amador Causeway.
Pictures 7 to 9 are around the Flamenco Marina on the Amador Causeway.
Pictures 10 and 11 show a brown-throated sloth resting in a comfortable shaded area in the marina.

Touch a picture number

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 10
Page 11