Canal Catastrophe - A Newspaper Style Article about the problems building the Panama Canal.

Essay by fuzzymonkeyHigh School, 10th gradeA+, March 2004

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Earlier this week, French engineers were forced to abandon their work in Panama after receiving news their privately owned company ran out of money. For the past eight years, France has been trying to construct a canal that would link the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, due planning errors made by the company's president, workers are not financially capable to continue with the construction.

A total of 1,174 million francs ($214 million) have been spent towards the building of this canal. However, this money did not come from France's government, but from French private investors who wanted a share in the profits. In 1879, a private company was formed not only to raise money needed for the canal, but also to construct it. The president of this company was a 74-year-old Frenchman by the name Ferdinand de Lesseps, who was a former diplomat and famous for his participation in the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869.

His fame and experience made him seem perfect for the job, but his "stubborn, vain, opinionated" attitude contributed to disaster (Source 1).

From the very beginning of this project, Lesseps "believed he knew better than the engineers under his command" (Source 1). When engineers offered advice, he immediately rejected it. His plan was to run the canal south following the Changres River and then passing through the mountains. Engineers didn't argue with him about this path, but told him it was necessary to use locks to lift the ships up and over the mountains, instead of carving a gigantic hole in the mountain. Although this was a good idea, stubborn Lesseps refused to use it and insisted on building a sea-level canal. When engineers heard they were to build a 72-foot-wide, 300-foot-tall gorge in Culebra Hill, they were appalled at...