The Kiss of the Oceans


I’m writing this blog post on July 14, 2014.  One hundred years ago, the magnificent engineering project, considered as one of the eight wonders of the world—the Panama Canal—was officially inaugurated.  Through this waterway, the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean met and kissed.  It was an accomplished only comparable with the constructions of the great pyramids of Egypt.

David McCullough brilliantly narrated the construction of the Panama Canal in his book, “The Path Between the Seas”.  In my opinion, it is by far the best book even written on the subject.  I’ve read it twice, and probably read it again in the future.  Being a Panamanian, it means a lot to me.  The history of our country is tightly intertwined with this gargantuan accomplishment.

It was a pity that the splendor of the inauguration was damped by the tragic events of the start of the First World War in Europe.  The attention of the media immediately placed its eyes on the European front and away from Middle America where the historic canal was being opened for the first time.  But it is what it is.

Below is a gorgeous postcard which I discovered yesterday while surfing through the pages of Facebook, published by a dear blogger of Chiriquí.  The postcard celebrates the historic opening of the Panama Canal dating back to 1914. At last, after many attempts to link the Atlantic and the Pacific which began in the 16th century, the dream was finally completed 100 years ago.

Credit: History Today.com

“On October 10, 1913, the dike at Gamboa, which had kept the Culebra Cut isolated from Gatun Lake, was demolished; the initial detonation was set off telegraphically by President Woodrow Wilson in Washington. On January 7, 1914, the Alexandre La Valley, an old French crane boat, became the first ship to make a complete transit of the Panama Canal under its own steam, having worked its way across in the final stages of construction.

As construction tailed off, the canal team began to disperse. Thousands of workers were laid off; entire towns were either disassembled or demolished. Gorgas left to help fight pneumonia in the South African gold mines, and went on to become surgeon general of the Army. On April 1, 1914, the Isthmian Canal Commission ceased to exist and the zone came under a new Canal Zone Governor; the first holder of this office was Colonel Goethals.

A grand celebration was originally planned for the official opening of the canal, as befitting so great an effort which had aroused strong feelings for many years. However, the outbreak of World War I forced cancellation of the main festivities, and the grand opening became a modest local affair. The Panama Railway steamship SS Ancon, piloted by Captain John A. Constantine, the Canal’s first pilot, made the first official transit of the canal on August 15, 1914. There were no international dignitaries in attendance; Goethals followed Ancon’s progress from shore, by railroad.”Wikipedia Encyclopedia

I’m sure the Panama Canal Authority will organize special celebrations to commemorate this centennial event next August.  Looking forward to learn just what they are and study the possibility of photographing and sharing them with you here. Good Day.

2 thoughts on “The Kiss of the Oceans”

  1. So interesting, and I love the postcard. “Culebra” seemed so familiar. It took me a while to realize I was thinking of the island off Puerto Rico — a wonderful place itself.

    I’ll look forward to hearing more about the celebrations, in time.

  2. Culebra Cut was the highest geographical area where the digging was a daily nightmare. The continuous accidents caused by huge avalanches as a result of excessive rainfall sent many workers to the grave. Culebra Cut was a place of death, but at last perseverance and a strong determination tamed the beast and the canal was eventually completed in 1914.

    If you have some spare time, I strongly suggest you read the book, “The Path Between the Seas” brilliantly written by historian David McCullough. I’m sure you will love it.

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