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Greetings from Panama! My name is Marina Ehrman and I have been a professional tour guide and promoter for Panama Tourism and Travel Company since 2005. I love what I do and am proud to share what my country has to offer. It is filled with endless leisure and commercial attractions, friendly happy people who open their doors to all visitors. Panama is a country of incomparable natural beauty with a variety of tourist attractions, beautiful beaches in the Pacific and Caribbean. The tropical climate year round with its diversified flora, fauna and indigenous groups make it one of the most important of Ecotourism in Latin America. I invite you to know our country’s history, culture and also enjoy the cuisine, folklore and traditions that only a place in the world can provide………Panama! Contact me and I’ll organize your visit and will be happy to welcome you in Panama. For more information on Panama, follow my Facebook page and my blog. Visit
Showing posts with label panama canal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label panama canal. Show all posts

How much water is required to fill a lock chamber?

101,000 cubic meters of water are needed to fill a Panama Canal lock chamber. An average of 52 million gallons of fresh water are used in each transit.

Itinerary : Panama Canal Full Transit Tour

About 8-9 hours
The tour starts at 7:00AM at the Flamenco Island in Amador Causeway in Panama City. You will check-in at the ship to start this adventure. The ship will cross under the Bridge of the Americas (Puente de Las Americas) and then start your transit through the Miraflores Locks, the first set of locks. While in Miraflores you will ascend 18 meters in two steps. After that you will find yourself transiting the artificial Miraflores Lake which is located just between the Miraflores Locks and Pedro Miguel Locks. You will still be in the Pacific Ocean.

At Pedro Miguel Locks the ship will ascend again another 9 meters in one step. While exiting Pedro Miguel Locks you will transit the Gaillard Cut (Corte Culebra). This area is full of history, is one of the most important points of attraction of this trip. Also, you will witness the works being done for the Canal expansion project.
Then you’ll find Gatun Lake. The second largest man-made lake in the world. You will find the Barro Colorado – Smithsonian Research Station and then you will transit the Gatun Locks the last and only set of locks located in the Atlantic side. At this point you will experience a 26 meters drop in three different steps which will complete your transit through the Panama Canal.
You will dock at Pier 6 in the Colon area where the transportation is provided to return to Panama City.

What's Special about the Panama Canal Full Transit Tour?

  • English/Spanish guide-narrator.
  • Continental Breakfast.
  • Complete Lunch, bottled water and soft drinks
  • Snacks
  • Transportation by bus from Colon to Flamenco Island in Panama City where tour started

What were the major obstacles in constructing the waterway?

 There were four major obstacles:
  • complex mountain range formation;
  • difficulties of a tropical jungle with an average annual rainfall of 105 inches and average temperature of 80 degrees fahrenheit;
  • river flooding;
  • and the "killer" obstacles, malaria and yellow fever.

      Teodoro Roosevelt visit during the Panama Canal construction

      The 26th U.S. president, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, was the first president to visit a foreign country. His enthusiasm for the Panama Canal project led him to see it for himself in November 1906.

      In anticipation of his visit Panamanians and Zonians alike went into overdrive to make the place presentable. David McCullough writes in his seminal book, Path Between the Seas:,

      Advanced preparations involved the efforts of thousands of people. . . . streets were scrubbed, houses were painted or whitewashed, flags were hung from windows and balconies. Programs were printed, schoolchildren were rehearsed in patriotic airs. The Republic of Panama declared his day of arrival a national day of “joy and exalted enthusiasm” and instructed the populace to behave, since “all thinkers, sociologists and philosophers of the universe [will] have their eyes upon us in penetrating scrutiny.”

      At Ancon, construction of a big three-story frame hotel called the Tivoli, a structure begun the year before but still far from finished, rushed ahead with all speed as soon as Stevens learned of the visit. One wing of the building was finished and furnished in six weeks.

      Once Roosevelt arrived he was not the most obliging to his hosts. At one point he pulled Dr. William Gorgas into his carriage then slipped out the other side with him for an impromptu inspection of Ancon Hospital. Later he would report their medical accomplishments were astounding.


      The President toured the bay in a tug boat and then popped in for a surprise visit and lunch at an employee mess hall instead of showing up for the luncheon in his honor at the Tivoli. He took the site-seeing train to Culebra Cut where he walked the railway ties. He was continuously pointing out the things he wanted to see and demanded to see them, even going so far as to inquire of black workers if they had any complaints. In his enthusiasm he inspected everything from dam sites, to steam shovels, to kitchens, to military troops. Teddy’s secret service men frantically scurried around trying to keep up as he dashed around the Canal Zone. Standing at the back of the train, he waved his hat and flashed his toothy smile at the children lined up to wave flags as he passed.

      After his whirlwind three-day visit everyone complained of exhaustion. As for Teddy, his only regret was that he didn’t have time to explore Panama’s tropical forest. He wrote in a letter to his son Kermit,

      All my old enthusiasm for natural history seemed revived, and I would have given a good deal to have stayed and tried to collect specimens

      Panama Canal Locks Gates

      The gates which separate the chambers in each flight of locks must hold back a considerable weight of water, and must be both reliable and strong enough to withstand accidents, as the failure of a gate could unleash a catastrophic flood of water downstream.

      These gates are of enormous size, ranging from 47 to 82 ft (14.33 to 24.99 m) high, depending on position, and are 7 ft (2.13 m) thick; the tallest gates are required at Miraflores, due to the large tidal range there. The heaviest leaves weigh 662 t (730 short tons; 652 long tons); the hinges themselves each weigh 16.7 t (36,817 lb). Each gate has two leaves, 65 ft (19.81 m) wide, which close to a V shape with the point upstream; this arrangement has the effect that the force of water from the higher side pushes the ends of the gates together firmly. The gates can only be opened when, in the operating cycle, water level on both sides is equal.

      The original gate machinery consisted of a huge drive wheel, powered by an electric motor, to which was attached a connecting rod, which in turn attached to the middle of the gate. These mechanisms were replaced with hydraulic struts beginning in January 1998, after 84 years of service. The gates are hollow and buoyant, much like the hull of a ship, and are so well balanced that two 19 kW (25 hp) motors are enough to move each gate leaf; if one motor fails, the other can still operate the gate at reduced speed.
      Each chamber also contains a pair of auxiliary gates which can be used to divide the chamber in two; this is designed to allow for the transit of smaller vessels — such as canal tugs — without using the full quantity of water. They were originally incorporated because the overwhelming majority of all ships of the early 1900s were less than 600 ft (183 m) in length, and would therefore not need the full length of the lock chamber. Nowadays these gates are rarely used; instead, small boats such as tour boats, tugs, and yachts are passed in groups.

      The Panama Canal tugboat fleet

      Tour Suggested

      Tugboats are floating equipment that assist vessels during their transits especially at the entrances and exits of the locks and during their transit through Gaillard Cut, where a great maneuverability and power is required

      Gaillard Cut

      Tour Suggested

      The Gaillard Cut, or Culebra Cut, is an artificial valley that cuts through the continental divide in Panama. The cut forms part of the Panama Canal, linking Lake GatĂșn, and thereby the Atlantic Ocean, to the Gulf of Panama and hence the Pacific Ocean. It is 12.6 km (7.8 mi) from the Pedro Miguel lock on the Pacific side to the Chagres River arm of Lake Gatun, with a water level 26 m (85 ft) above sea level.
      Construction of the cut was one of the great engineering feats of its time; the immense effort required to complete it was justified by the great significance of the canal to shipping, and in particular the strategic interests of the United States of America.


      French work

      As described in History of the Panama Canal, the excavation of the Culebra Cut was begun by a French venture, led by Ferdinand de Lesseps, which was attempting to build a sea-level canal between the oceans, with a bottom width of 22 metres (72 ft). Digging at Culebra began on January 22, 1881. A combination of disease, underestimation of the problem, and financial difficulties led to the collapse of the French effort, which was bought out by the United States in 1904. The French had excavated some 14,256,000 m³ (18,646,000 cubic yards) of material from the cut, and had lowered the summit from 64 metres (210 ft) above sea level to 59 metres (193 ft), over a relatively narrow width.

      American work

      The United States took over on May 4, 1904. Under the leadership of John F. Stevens, and later George Washington Goethals, the American effort started work on a wider, but not as deep a cut, as part of a new plan for an elevated lock-based canal, with a bottom width of 91 metres (300 ft); this would require creation of a valley up to 540 metres (a third of a mile) wide at the top. A vast amount of new earthmoving equipment was imported, and a comprehensive system of railways was constructed for the removal of the immense amounts of earthen and rocky spoil.

      Major David du Bose Gaillard, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, joined the project at the same time as Goethals, and he was put in charge of the central district of the canal, which was responsible for all of the work between Gatun Lake and the Pedro Miguel locks — most notably, the Culebra Cut. Gaillard brought dedication and quiet, clear-sighted leadership to his difficult, complex task.
      The scale of the work was massive. Hundreds of large steam drills bored holes in which were planted tons of dynamite, which blasted the rock of the cut so that it could be excavated by steam shovels. Dozens of spoils trains took the spoil from the shovels to the landfill dumps, about twelve miles (19 km) away. In a typical day, 160 trainloads of material were hauled away from a cut nine miles long (14 km). This workload on the railroads required some skillful co-ordination. At the busiest times, there was a train going inbound or outbound almost every minute.

      Six thousand men worked in the cut, drilling holes, placing explosives, controlling steam shovels, and running the dirt trains. They also moved and extended the railroad tracks as the work moved forward. Twice a day work stopped for blasting, and then the steam shovels were moved in to take the loose spoil (dirt and rock) away. More than 600 holes filled with dynamite were fired daily. In all, 60 million pounds (27,000 tonnes) of dynamite were used. In some locations, about 52,000 pounds (23.6 metric tonnes) of dynamite were planted and detonated for a single blast.

      The excavation of the cut was one of the greatest areas of uncertainty in the creation of the canal, due to the unpredicted large landslides. The International Board of Consulting Engineers had mistakenly decided that the rock would be stable at a height of 73.5 metres with a slope of 1 in 1.5; in practice, the rock began to collapse from that slope at a height of only 19.5 metres. The misjudgment was in part due to unforeseen oxidation of the underlying iron strata due to water infiltration, which caused weakening and eventually a collapse of the strata.

      The first and largest major slide occurred in 1907 at Cucaracha. The initial crack was first noted on October 4, 1907, followed by the mass wasting of about 382,000 m³ (500,000 cubic yards) of clay. This slide caused many people to suggest the construction of the Panama Canal would be impossible; Gaillard described the slides as tropical glaciers, made of mud instead of ice. The clay was too soft to be excavated by the steam shovels, and it was therefore largely removed by sluicing it with water from a high level.

      After this, the sediment in the upper levels of the cut was removed, resulting in less weight over the weak strata. The slide still continued to cause minor problems after this


      Steam shovels broke through the Culebra Cut in May, 1913. The Americans had lowered the summit of the cut from 59 metres (193 ft) to 12 metres (40 ft) above sea level, at the same time widening it considerably, and they had excavated over 76 million cubic metres (100 million cubic yards) of material. Some 23 million cubic metres (30 million cubic yards) of this material was additional to the planned excavation, having been brought into the cut by the landslides.

      Gaillard died from a brain tumor in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 5, 1913, having been promoted to colonel just one month prior, and hence he never saw the opening of the canal in 1914. The Culebra Cut, as it was originally known, was renamed to the Gaillard Cut on April 27, 1915, in his honor

      Panama Canal Transit Tour

      Panama is one of the most modern and progressive tourism destinations in Central America. Although Panama offers a wide variety of attractions and activities, the Panama Canal is perhaps its best-known and most popular attraction. A voyage through the Panama Canal is at the top of the list for thousands of tourists, and those who have completed the trip describe it as one of the most memorable adventures in their lifetime. The Panama Canal is one of the most fascinating places in the world where human ingenuity, and the wonders of nature, come together to connect two great oceans and join the world.
      It’s time to experience the Panama Canal Transiting,
                                                        the Panama Canal is a traveler’s “must do” adventure