Our first blog post on “Transiting the Panama Canal” took us from the Caribbean Sea entrance at Colon, Panama, and through the Gatun locks. This blog post follows our journey across Gatun Lake in very inclement weather. Our third blog post in this series will take us down through the three Pacific-locks (84 feet, or 25.6 meters) to the Pacific Ocean.
The Gatun Dam is a large earthen dam across the Chagres River in Panama, near the town of Gatun. The dam, constructed between 1907 and 1913, is a crucial element of the Panama Canal; it impounds the artificial Gatun Lake, which in turn carries ships for 33 kilometres (21 mi) of their transit across the Isthmus of Panama. In addition, a hydro-electric generating station at the dam generates electricity which is used to operate the locks and other equipment in the canal. Construction of the dam was a great engineering achievement, eclipsed only by the parallel excavation of the Culebra Cut; at the time of completion, the dam was the largest earth dam in the world, and Lake Gatun was the largest artificial lake in the world. — Wikipedia
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The Culebra Cut, formerly called Gaillard Cut, is an artificial valley that cuts through the Continental Divide in Panama. The cut forms part of the Panama Canal, linking Gatun Lake, and thereby the Atlantic Ocean [and Caribbean Sea], to the Gulf of Panama and hence the Pacific Ocean. It is 12.6 kilometres (7.8 mi) from the Pedro Miguel lock on the Pacific side to the Chagres River arm of Lake Gatun, with a water level 26 metres (85 ft) above sea level. Construction of the cut was one of the great engineering feats of its time; the immense effort required to complete it was justified by the great significance of the canal to shipping, and in particular the strategic interests of the United States of America. Culebra is the name for the mountain ridge it cuts through and was also originally applied to the cut itself. From 1915 to 2000 the cut was named Gaillard Cut after US Major David du Bose Gaillard, who had led the excavation. After the canal handover to Panama in 2000, the name was changed back to Culebra. — Wikipedia