DAILY FEATURE: By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (November 17, 2020) – In Issue 111 of Steve Kovacs Fun with Maps we travel through the history of the Panama Canal

U.S.S. Ohio passing through the Panama Canal on July 16, 1915. The ship is passing the Cucaracha Slide, in the Culebra Cut, the eight mile long gorge carved through the continental divide. (Photo credit: Shutterstock Historic Images)

The first ship sailed through the Panama Canal 107 years ago today.

Connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in Panama was a dream for a long time.  It was first proposed by the Spanish in 1534 as a shortcut to reach Peru.  The French had a failed attempt to build it in the late 19th century in large part because of the poor working conditions in the jungle.  Then in 1903 the US secured a renewable lease for the land and finally built the canal.

The Panama Canal is 51 miles long and carries about 15,000 ships annually. The average time it takes a ship to pass through the Panama Canal is 8-10 hours. Ships must pay a toll to pass through the Panama Canal beginning at a cost of $880 for ships less than 50 feet long, but up to $2,200 for ships from 80-100 feet in length – all ships exceeding 100 feet pay $3,200 to pass through the canal.

Here is Cram’s map of the Canal Zone for 1914: the year after it opened.

Map of the Canal Zone – Circa 1914 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Antique Maps & Fun Facts here on Loveland Beacon.