‘ where’s Davis, he’s late. Well, we’re gon na have to start without him. Today we & # 39. Ve got land masses surrounded by water. The first one is a small land mass surrounded by a huge ocean. What do you think that looks like well like a small continent? No smaller way smaller? It is land, though oh it is land yeah, maybe just call it is land is land.
You know that’s, what people would say when they see it it’s. Land, you know, is land doesn’t really roll off the tongue? Well, maybe you could pronounce the AI differently like eyes, land ice, iceland.
Now we already named that one, and this is one of those by the way. Well, maybe you could just drop the S. You know just island island. I like it cool, no esta! No, no, no! Keep the s just don’t pronounce it.
What is silent s? We make it confusing extremely moving on right, so the next one is a narrow strip of land separated by two bodies of water. Oh, we already named that one remember Peninsula cuz, it cuz.
It looks like a penis. Oh my god. I hit the floor unless over at that one, so I would name that one Florida, but no, this is this – is different. This actually connects to large land masses like two continents, a land bridge that sounds temporary, it’s, not a bridge is land.
Well, maybe we could do the same thing. You know we got two island from is land, maybe we can do is bridge is strip, is, is just I like it. This MMus is a very weird word to say, but there are several.
Is mice’s around the world that have served major roles in war and trade that have shaped the course of our history by the way, if it’s, mice’s hard to say, I can now verify that it’s, mice & # 39. S is actually harder.
Sounds like Mike Tyson trying to say Christmas’s, but of all the isthmus is in the world. None of them have been remotely as just utterly infuriating as the Isthmus of Panama. It was first discovered just over 500 years ago, in 1513 by Spanish conquistador Vasco núñez de Balboa, and yes technically.
It was discovered thousands of years earlier by the natives that pass through there as they migrated from north south america. But balboa was the first one that really understood its importance. The story goes that Balboa was exploring a mountain range near the Chicken Hawk a river and modern-day Panama and along the way he reached the peak of a hill, and he looked out and realized that he could see a whole other ocean.
On the other side, he could literally see the Pacific in one direction in the Atlantic in another direction. Now keep in mind this entire land mass had just been discovered 21 years before that they had no idea how big this was, and here he was standing at a place where he could see that it was just a tiny little strip of land that literally separated The entire earth – you know the whole reason they were sailing West in the first place – was to find a new route to Asia that that didn’t require them to go all the way around Africa to get there, and here they find themselves face To face with a 40 mile wide stretch of land that is forcing them to do in an 8,000 mile detour around South America to get there, and if that wasn’t bad enough, you have to pass through the Drake Passage at the bottom of South America, which has some of the roughest seas in the world, but where you or I might see proof that God is a troll balboa saw opportunity.
He thought for sure this was gon na, be an important trade route someday, and he thought for sure that he could. You know, take advantage of that by subjugating the native peoples too, as well. He was right about the first one, not so much right about the second one.
Eventually, Balboa crossed the wrong Spanish governor named Pedro Rios day of via who thought he was getting a little too big for his britches. So he had him beheaded according to the bridges law, but just really quickly.
How did this whole thing get created? In the first place, I mean it’s such a weird little strip of land like how did that happen? It’s kind of a geological rarity about 50 million years ago. The Caribbean and Coco’s, tectonic plates collided and it set off underwater volcanoes.
Those volcanoes did what volcanoes do. They erupted. A lot brought a lot of lava to the surface and created a chain of islands between the two continents. These islands disrupted the ocean currents enough that sediment started to build up around it and over about 12 million years that sediment filled in and closed itself off completely that’s.
How you get an isthmus, so yeah pretty much from the moment. The Isthmus of Panama was discovered, people have been trying to put a canal through it. King, charles v of spain, ordered a survey for canal building purposes.
In 1534, in 1698, the kingdom of Scotland tried to put a railway across the Isthmus, but nothing ever came of that even Thomas Jefferson put his engineering mind toward the canal and 1788, but it proved too difficult at the time.
Now. All this time there were roads that cross the isthmus, the most notable one was the Las Cruces Trail, but it was a long journey over mountains and through rain forests that made getting heavy stuff through there pretty much impossible.
It basically made the 8,000 mile journey around South America. Look worth it. Finally, in 1855, a railway was built across Panama at the cost of eight million dollars and 10,000 people died. So many people died that it created a cadaver market of selling.
These bodies off to medical schools that actually kind of kept the hospitals in business, but even still it was a band-aid solution at best, especially for cargo. You know you had to unload the boat yet to make take meticulous notes on all the inventory get it on.
The rail you know go across the the jungle and the mountains and get to the other side. Then you have to put it back onto a different boat, again, keeping track of all the inventory and everything it was.
It was a pain, so the next serious attempt at a canal was done by the French in 1881 and they were riding high at the moment on the success of the Suez Canal, which at the time was one of the biggest engineering feats in the world history.
So they taught the same guy who built the Suez Canal, an engineer named Ferdinand de Lesseps, and he thought he’d. Make short work of this project. After all, the Suez Canal was way longer than the Panama Canal would need to be.
It was like three times longer, so he took a few trips to Panama and concluded that the whole thing would be a cakewalk but as they say, pride goeth before the guy who doesn’t know the difference between Egypt and Panama.
The Suez Canal is a sea-level canal across a flat plain. Panama is basically a string of volcanoes. The Suez is a dry desert. Environment. Panama is a freaking rainforest also with Sepp visited Panama during the dry season, which didn & # 39.
T give him a good idea of how things would work. So, after a months and months of his cruise, you know pick axing through the jungle and through mountains and rock and everything the rains would come and then just flood in everything with mudslides and water and just undo everything they just did.
This also created some lovely breeding grounds for mosquitoes which spread malaria and yellow fever, which killed up to 40 people a day on average. So when it became obvious that a sea-level canal through Panama, just absolutely wasn’t gon na work, they decided to do a lock system, and this is where they called up Gustave Eiffel.
To make that happen. Yes, that Gustave Eiffel, but at this point it was too little too late. The money was dwindling, the body count had risen to 25,000 people and they were nowhere near close to actually completing this canal.
Eventually, the project was scrapped. What step was investigated for misappropriating funds and bribery, but before he got brought to trial, he actually added himself to the body count when he died in December of 1894 and unlike the tens of thousands of people who died working for him, he got to die of Old age, he was 89 years old.
This whole thing was objectively a disaster, but it did get the ball rolling on the Panama Canal, which the United States picked up and ran with in 1902. Am i mixing metaphors there? In 1902 the us past the Spooner act, which basically bought the Panama Canal Company from the French for 40 million dollars.
Now this was controversial because a lot of people thought that Nicaragua would actually be a better place to build a canal. But the French had already gotten started on this and they figured it would be easier to kind of pick up where they left off, plus the United States already owned that railroad.
I talked about earlier. That would run parallel to the canal. Now there was one tiny problem, which is that Columbia, didn’t want us there. Now, if you’re asking, why does it matter that Columbia, didn’t want us there? It’s because Columbia owned Panama.
That Isthmus of Panama was part of Columbia at the time, and the reason they didn’t want us. There was because they kind of feared that we would come in and try to like take over their country, which we had kind of just done in the Philippines.
So in one hand you have Teddy Roosevelt saying he wants complete control of the canal and on the other hand, you have the Colombians who don’t want to do that. They don & # 39. T trust us to to be good with that.
So that really gave the us only two options: one respect the sovereignty of another country and walk away or encourage the people of Panama to revolt and form their own country. With the express understanding that, in return for our naval support, we get to build the canal and run it in perpetuity, seeing as how there is now a country called Panama through which runs a canal, you can kind of guess which direction we chose.
So, after getting all Panama got, its independence in the United States got its canal, but we went about doing it a little bit differently than the French did for one thing by this time we understood a lot more about malaria and yellow fever and their connection to Mosquitoes so Colonel William C Gorgas was placed in charge of sanitation, treating any standing water putting out mosquito nets.
Fumigating buildings, that kind of thing, and it worked. The rates of malaria and yellow fever went way down during the American campaign, all in all, including accidents and disease. Only 5,600 people died.
This go-around, you know only 5,600 people yeah for those of y’all doing the math. That all adds up to about 31,000 people that died building Panama Canal, that’s like 10 911s. The entire operation was placed under the Department of War.
They they framed it as a national security issue, so at our Navy could get from one ocean to the other quickly. So it was all being directed by Secretary of War, William Howard Taft, which of course later became president, the United States, with the backing of the country’s.
Defense budget Taft brought in heavy machinery that the French didn’t have, and he also brought in dynamite lots of dynamite, because if the war department knew how to do anything, it was blow stuff up.
Now. All of these factors helped with the American effort, but the real genius move was thought up by chief engineer, John Stevens, so I mentioned the lock system earlier, just in case you’re, not a canal expert.
The point of the lock system is to raise ships up above sea level. This is one of the problems that will separate into he actually wanted to create a sea-level canal that just dug all the way down to sea level, but he found out that this volcanic rock was just too hard and too impassable.
The whole thing was just kind of impossible: with a lock system, a ship enters a lock which closes behind it. Then the water is pumped in that raises the ship up to level of the next lock. The then moves forward, then that one fills raises the ship to the level of the next one and so on and so forth.
Until you get to the level of the canal. So they were doing the lock system in Panama, but there were still 40 miles of treacherous jungle and mountains to get through. But John Stevens had a brilliant idea.
You could dam the Chagas River and create a lake right in the middle of the isthmus. Then you only have to build a canal to the lake cutting the amount of canal building in half more than half. Actually this changed everything.
Now all you had to do was build the world’s biggest dam at the time and create the world’s biggest man-made lake at the time, not to mention the locks which were the biggest ones in the world at the time.
Also, not to mention a certain area called the cull, barrack cut, which was basically the continental divide, which required leveling, a mountain from 59 meters above sea level to 12 meters above sea level and required removing a hundred million cubic meters of rock.
It was a Herculean effort, the likes of which the world had never seen, but regardless they got it done and two years early, no less and finally, on August 3rd 1914, after four hundred and one years of planning and wishing to put a canal there, the first Ship passed through the Panama Canal and the entire world missed it, because on that very same day, Germany declared war on France, which started World War one.
But the effort was worth it because almost immediately five percent of world trade started traveling through the Panama Canal and just like everybody predicted, it became one of the most strategic points in the entire world and it’s.
For that reason that the u.s. hung onto the ownership of Panama Canal for decades, even as tensions with Panama, began to rise now, eventually big shock, Panama decided they wanted ownership of the canal and the u.
s. resisted, even after supporting Egypt as they fought to get controlled. The Suez Canal from the British and the French in the 1950s, not the best, look now this finally got resolved during the Carter Administration when a treaty was signed, putting an end date to the United States, ownership of the canal in 1999.
So, On January, 1st, in the year 2000, the Panama Canal finally became the property of the country of Panama. Today, nearly fourteen thousand ships pass through the Panama Canal every year and it continues to shape the global shipping industry.
In fact, the size of those locks kind of determine the size of cargo ships over the last century, the largest the ship can be and still fit in. Those locks is 1,050 feet, 106 feet wide. So, of course you know shipping companies want to build their ships as big as they possibly can.
So this became a class of ship called Panamax and for a long time that was plenty big for a cargo ship, but as technology evolved, you know, ships got bigger and bigger and eventually got to the point where it actually made more sense to build a bigger Ship and sail it all the way around South America, so eventually the Panama Canal needed to expand.
So in 2016, the Canal opens a new lock that can accommodate 1,200 feet long by 168 feet wide ships. This became known as post-panamax and in a great example of ripple effects the new size shipment that ports along the u.
s. East Coast have spent tens of millions of dollars to upgrade their facilities and it’s created a whole industry of transport hubs. In the Caribbean, where post-panamax ships unload their cargo into smaller ships that they can then hit any port in the East Coast, I should also mention it’s, not cheap to go through the canal.
They charge by the number of shipping containers. A boat has, and the largest boats can pay up to a half a million dollars just to pass through there. Now the least anybody ever paid was Richard Halliburton, who swam the canal in 1928 and paid a whopping 36 cents for it random facts with Joe, and these tolls are always changing by the way.
According to the business of the day, they have to make sure that they’re competitive with the Suez Canal and competitive against the possibility of people. Just you know, porting, in Los Angeles and going across rail through the United States, plus remember how some people are talking about putting a canal through Nicaragua.
Well, that could still be a thing recently. A Chinese investment group signed a deal with the Nicaraguan government to do exactly that, though, the deal seemed to be stalled and not really going anywhere at the moment.
So yeah look, I’ve, always known what the Panama Canal was, and I knew how important it wasn’t everything, but I fell into a little bit of the history of it recently and was just blown away by what an achievement.
This was and how costly the whole thing was. I mean yeah. Its importance to the world is beyond measure, but 30,000 people lost their lives building it. The only construction project that killed more people was the Burma Siam railway, which was depicted in the bridge on the river kwai, but that was kind of a wartime thing.
So to me that gets a bit of an asterisk, but in terms of peacetime, construction project, the Panama Canal, is the deadliest one in modern history. Maybe ever for every mile of the canal, five hundred people died, making Isthmus of Panama quite likely the a strip of land in the whole world.
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