The Panama Canal, faster than usual

Courtesy of Old Salt Blog, here’s a time-lapse video of a passage through the Panama Canal.  The trip lasts 11 hours, but the video takes less than 7 minutes – much more palatable in our high-speed world!  Note the “locomotives” on either side of the ship, hauling it through the locks.  They’re partly visible from time to time, as in the video ‘cover image’ below, on the right of the ship’s bow.

The digging of the Panama Canal remains one of the great adventure stories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It advanced not only navigation, but also medicine, engineering and a host of other disciplines.  If you haven’t already read about it, I recommend David McCullough’s book ‘The Path Between the Seas‘.

It’s a remarkable tale, very well told.



  1. McCullough wrote two books that strike me as some of the best 'Hugo Gernsback, how we built the space station and conquered Mars' style SF, with the bonus that they are TRUE.

    THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS is one and THE GREAT BRIDGE (about the Brooklyn Bridge) is the other.

  2. I will secong Peter's recommendation of this book. There is so much to the story of the Canal construction that most people are unaware of.

  3. Great video, and now I want to read the book. Corresponded once on a time with an old alum who worked on the Canal right after he graduated, a century ago. Neat personal story.

  4. And now Red China controls the canal, as Panama sold the rights to run it to them.

    The canal, partially dug by the French, who died in droves, and then finished by Americans, who died in droves. Now a part of Red China's logistics control of the world.

  5. I had that book nearly 30 years ago, don’t know if I lent it out or what. The thing that sticks in my mind is how Stevens identified the obstacle as how to remove the excavated dross quickly enough to keep the diggers going.

  6. An interesting tidbit about the Panama Canal is that due to the shape of the isthmus, the Atlantic (Caribbean Sea) side is the western end and the Pacific side is the eastern end.

    I've been through it myself. It took most of the day and was an experience.

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