Panama Canal: American Experience

Panama Canal: American Experience

Tue, 04/03/2012 - 9:30pm

Pictured: Miraflores Locks, Panama, under construction in 1912

Credit: Courtesy of NARA

This film unravels the story of one of the world’s most significant technological achievements.

On August 15th, 1914, the Panama Canal opened, connecting the world’s two largest oceans and signaling America’s emergence as a global superpower. American ingenuity and innovation had succeeded where, just a few years earlier, the French had failed disastrously. But the U.S. paid a price for victory: more than a decade of ceaseless, grinding toil, an outlay of more than 350 million dollars -- the largest single federal expenditure in history to that time -- and the loss of more than 5,000 lives. Along the way, Central America witnessed the brazen overthrow of a sovereign government, the influx of over 55,000 workers from around the globe, the removal of hundreds of millions of tons of earth, and engineering innovation on an unprecedented scale. The construction of the Canal was the epitome of man’s mastery over nature and signaled the beginning of America’s domination of world affairs. Directed by Stephen Ives (The West, Seabiscuit, Roads to Memphis), Panama Canal airs on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 9:30 PM on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 11/cable 1011).