The Chagres: Power of the Panama Canal

The Chagres: Power of the Panama Canal

By: Jean Lee Latham Complete Authored Works
Published by: Garrard Publishing Company
Publication Date: 1964
Series: Garrard's Rivers of the World
Series Number: 11

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If there were no Chagres River there would be no Panama Canal. For the Chagres supplies the electrical power and the water to run the Canal—billions of gallons of water to fill the locks. And without the Canal, ships traveling to and from the Atlantic and Pacific would have to sail around Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America.

The first white man to see the Chagres River was Columbus who was searching for a sea route to the East. He died never knowing he had seen the river which would someday provide the path to the East. Hundreds of years after Columbus' visit, men began to search for ways to cut through the narrow strip of land that joined the two continents.

The French begin the project, knowing that it would be a tremendous undertaking. When the Chagres was behaving, it was a beautiful river. When it went on a rampage, it was terrifying. But the French canal was doomed even before work began—defeated by lack of money, corruption, inadequate machinery and the fevers that killed one out of every three white visitors in Panama.

In 1903 the United States took over the project. Little did they realize that it would be eleven long years of heartbreaking struggle against floods, avalanches and the killing fevers before the first ship would pass through the Canal.

The Chagres is a fascinating story of men's patience and perseverance against overwhelming odds. In the end, they tamed the wild Chagres River, conquered mountains, and created an engineering marvel—the Crossroads of the World.

From the dust jacket

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