Impressive Feats of Engineering #3: The Panama Canal

We jump forward quite some time in this latest instalment of our ongoing series, and we must admit that it was a quite a task trying to pick a single feat of engineering from all of the many options that we could have chosen. In the end though, we settled upon the Panama Canal because…well…you’ll soon see why. Read on to find out more:

Panama Canal Construction


The Panama Canal extends for a full 48 miles, and the basic premise of this colossal undertaking was to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans together using an artificial waterway. The canal bisects the Isthmus of Panama, and is an integral part of the modern maritime trade industry.

Panama Canal


Work on the Panama Canal began in 1881, but it wasn’t until January 7th 1914 when the feat was actually completed. It was France who first instigated the project, but, when this initial effort failed due to mortality rate and problems relating to disease, it took the intervention of the USA in 1904 to see the completion of the canal. 4.5 million cubic yards of concrete were needed in the construction process, and the total amount of excavation material could have easily buried a city.

Panama Canal LocksWhy?

We chose the Panama Canal because, simply put, it’s one of the largest and most difficult engineering feats that mankind has ever attempted. Although most people recognise the ingenuity of linking the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans together, far fewer realise the difficulty that was involved when it came to actually raising the canal. The sea levels upon each coast of the canal are vastly different, and so a plan had to be implemented to overcome this.

When raising the level of the canal, a total of three locks were required to make the venture possible, and these huge structures (with doors that weighed over 700 tons each) were designed to enable a staggering 80 million tons of shipping to pass over the canal on a yearly basis. So did the Panama Canal live up to this lofty goal? You could say that. Today, some 230 million tons of shipping rely on it annually. Wow.

It’s pretty obvious that the Panama Canal is an impressive marvel of modern engineering, but everyday products like our Boston Gear range also make a significant contribution to the discipline as well. We can’t all be building legendary structures, but we all have a need for quality equipment. For more information, contact us now by calling 01926 411 544 or email us at


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