32¢ Panama Canal Opens
Celebrate the Century – 1910s
Issue Date: February 3, 1998
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
The Panama Canal is an artificial waterway that cuts through the Isthmus of Panama to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is considered to be one of the greatest engineering achievements in the world. The canal makes it possible for ships to travel between Atlantic and Pacific ports without traveling around South America, which saves a distance of about 8,000 miles.
The Panama Canal is nearly 51 miles long and extends from Limón Bay on the Atlantic Ocean to the Bay of Panama on the Pacific Ocean. It has three sets of water-filled chambers called locks which raise and lower ships from one level to another. Electric locomotives help guide the ships through the lock chambers.
A 1903 treaty gave the United States the rights to build and operate this waterway. It took several years and cost the United States $380 million to build the canal. At the height of the construction, there were more than 43,000 people working on the canal.
The majority of the construction was completed in 1914. The first official trip through the entire length of the canal was made by a passenger-cargo ship, the S.S. Ancon. That voyage made the Panama Canal’s slogan a reality – “The Land Divided, The World United.”