Original newspaper articles dating during 194
In 1881, a French company headed by Ferdinand de Lesseps, a former diplomat who developed Egypt’s Suez Canal, began digging a canal across Panama.The project was plagued by poor planning, engineering problems and tropical diseases that killed thousands of workers.In 2010, the 1 millionth vessel crossed the canal since it first opened in 1914.In the years after the canal opened, tensions increased between America and Panama over control of the canal and the surrounding Canal Zone. In the aftermath of the violence, Panama temporarily broke off diplomatic relations with the United States.Tolls for the largest ships can run about 0,000.The smallest toll ever paid was 36 cents, plunked down in 1928 by American adventurer Richard Halliburton, who swam the canal.
A century after the United States completed the Panama Canal, a navigable link across Nicaragua remains a possibility: In 2013, a Chinese company announced it had struck a billion deal with the Nicaraguan government for the rights to construct such a waterway.
De Lesseps and his son Charles, along with Eiffel and several other company executives, were indicted on fraud and mismanagement charges.
In 1893, the men were found guilty, sentenced to prison and fined, although the sentences were overturned.
De Lesseps intended to build the canal at sea level, without locks, like the Suez Canal, but the excavation process proved far more difficult than anticipated.
Gustave Eiffel, who designed the famous tower in Paris that bears his name, was then hired to create locks for the canal; however, the De Lesseps-led company went bankrupt in 1889.