Friday, July 2, 2010

Miraflores Locks

After our brief visit to the zoo, we headed via the SACA (public bus) to Miraflores Locks. Construction of the Miraflores locks was completed in 1913. They are at the entrance of the canal off of the Pacific Ocean. The locks link the Pacific with the Miraflores Lake, a manmade lake.

We treated ourselves to all of the tourism attractions: a 10 minute documentary in the theater (very brief in comparison to David McCallough’s 600 page history), the exhibition hall houses a history of the construction of the canal, an ecological exhibit that highlights the canal’s watershed and some of the plants and animals found there, and a full scale pilot training simulator and route maps. But the highlight was being there in time to watch two ships go through the locks! The sun came out just in time for us to find a spot on the rooftop observation deck and take in all of the action.

Here is some canal trivia you can impress your friends with:

1. The main work on the Canal was completed in 1914. Construction of 3 new locks is underway. The expansion project will be completed in 2014.

2. The cost of building the canal was $380 million dollars. ($310 million for actual construction; $20 million for sanitation; $40 million paid to the original French companies; and $10 million paid to Panama for rights)

3. Construction employed more than 43,400 persons (at the height of activity in 1913).

4. It is estimated that 25,000 people died building the canal. That’s about 500 per mile.

5. Over 152.9 million cubic meters of land and was removed. Some of it was used to build the Amador Causeway. (More on that in future posts.) I don’t know where the rest of it went yet!

6. A ship traveling from New York to San Francisco can save 7,872 miles using the Panama Canal instead of going around the tip of South America.

7. It takes 24 hours to pass through the canal.

8. Today it costs between $200,000 and $250,000 to transit the canal. The smallest charge was 45 cent to swimmer Albert H. Oshiver, who swam through the locks in December, 1962.

9. Approximately 12,000 oceangoing vessels now pass through the Canal yearly, almost 35 a day.

10. The record of 14,807 ship transits was set in 1968.

11. Each lock in the Canal system is 1,000' long, 110' wide, and 70' deep. The new locks will be larger to accommodate even bigger ships that are now being built.

Click below to reach the album for more photos...
Summit Zoo & Miraflores Locks

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