The Panama Canal is an engineering marvel, with three series of locks lifting ships 85 feet above sea level, to cross the Continental Divide and one of the world’s largest manmade lakes.
In1880, the French attempted to to cut a sea-level canal across the Isthmus of Panama, but their efforts were continually flooded out.
In 1904, the Americans stepped in and, after some difficult starts, completed a few engineering miracles. The Americans constructed the largest dam ever built and a new lake that would serve as a reservoir for water to fill the locks.
The Americans thought to do something the French did not: Lift the ships through a series of locks that gravity would fill with water from a manmade lake.
The 50-mile transit typically takes about nine hours, depending on traffic, and cost Crystal Cruises about $200,000 for our transit today, which is considerably more than the 38 cents by a man who in 1928 swam the canal. He set a record for the smallest amount ever paid, but missed out on the comfort of a Crystal cruise.