January 19, 2016

The Panama Canal

          Have you ever heard the phrase, “I had to go around my elbow to get to my mouth?”  Many people use this phrase to describe having to go out of the way to get somewhere.  Instead of a straight shot to where they wanted to go, they had many detours before they finally made it to where they wanted to go.  For many years, whenever a boat needed to get from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, the sailors would have to go “around their elbow to get to their mouth.”  There was not an easy way or a short cut.  The sailors would have to navigate their boat around the Cape Horn, the area between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica. 

            Why was this a problem?  For one reason, it was a long journey.  Going around the horn would add close to 1,000 miles to each trip a sailor would make from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  While that is an inconvenience, the problem was the type of weather a sailor would have to encounter when coming into the cape.  Winds gusting at a range from 50-80 mph would meet a ship as they tried to steer through the cape.  With these winds came waves that might reach up to 90 feet high.  A crew would only have a window of about 100 days a year where they would not encounter these conditions.


            As explorers studied maps, they were convinced there had to be another way to get from one ocean to the other.  Everyone came back to one place on the map – the Isthmus of Panama.  This isthmus joins Central America to South America. To the east, the Caribbean Sea would eventually meet the Atlantic Ocean while the Gulf of Panama would merge into the Pacific Ocean on the west side.  The isthmus at one place was only 30 miles wide!  How close the two oceans were while being so far away.  Would there be a way to cut right through Panama?

            There were many problems that kept the canal from being built.  France had begun building a canal, but due to diseases, flooding and, eventual bankruptcy, they had to stop.  They wanted America to pick up where they had left off, but other problems stood in the way.  Panama had to win its independence from Colombia, and eventually did in 1903.  Since America had helped them gain their freedom, the following year, a treaty was made between the USA and Panama to allow the USA to finish building the canal. 


When finally finished in October 1913, the canal came in at 48 miles long and 200 feet wide.   The Panama Canal helped launch the United States into a world trading empire as well as allowed other countries to expand their trading.  The US Navy was able to protect America during times of war thanks to the Panama Canal.  Ultimately, the east could finally get to the west without “having to go around their elbow to get to their mouth.”  

STUDENTS: Explain why the Panama Canal was necessary for the world.  Use evidence from the text and the map to support your answer.

9 comments:

  1. he panama canal is located on the island of Panama. The Panama Canal was nesscary to the WORLD. Here are 2 reasons why.
    First of all, it launched people into a trading EMPIRE. This allowed people to expand their trading. People must have got goods!
    It also made traveling easier (only on boat). The east could get. somerwhere safe. They could finally not have to go around their elbow to get to their mouth.
    That is why the panama canal is useful to the world.

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  2. Do you know why the Panama Canal was necessary.

    The Panama Canal was built so you would not have to go around your elbow to get to your mouth and it was guickr.

    That is the inporatant detail why the Panama Canal was necessary.

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  3. The Panama Canal was helpful for many years. It even helps us now. There's probably somebody going across it right now. It was necessary to build it.
    There was not a shortcut. So, if you wanted to come from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean ,you would keep going ‘’so on and so on’’.
    With the Panama Canal there is a shortcut. It was a problem for France though. France had to build the Panama Canal. Some people got hurt bad.
    Without the Panama Canal it is like 1,000 miles (or even more) to get there. It also depends where you're going.
    That's why the Panama Canal very necessary and helpful. I wonder what it’s like, don’t you.

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  4. Was the panama canal necessary for our world? The panama canal was necessary
    for our world.

    The panama canal helped people trade. It helped the united states into a world of
    trading.

    The panama canal helped fight wars. The us navy was able to protect America thanks
    thanks to the panama canal.

    The panama canal was necessary for our world.The panama canal was necessary.

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  5. Why was the Panama Canal necessary for the world? There are many reasons why the Panama Canal was necessary for the world

    The Canal helped launch the United States into a world trading empire. The launch allowed other countries trades. If we didn't have the Canal how would we get things from China and everywhere else. For example if you had a toy made in China you wouldn't have that toy. The Canal let you have that toy

    The Canal helped people get to the Atlantic to the Pacific. It would have taken 1,000 miles to get there if we did not have the Canal.

    That is why the Panama Canal is necessary for the world.

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  6. Have you ever heard I had to go around my elbow to get my mouth? That means out of the way to go somewhere.Sailors in the east tried going west in the Arctic. It was not easy. They would go around the Cape Horn. It was a long journey. Many times they tried building it. They started building it in 1903. They finished in 1913. How was the Panama necessary? It let sailors go east. It was an easier way to. In the beggining it was hard.It was not a shortcut.How was the Panama necessary?

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  7. t is neccessary because the Panama Carnal helped launch the United States into the world.The US Navy was able to protect America during times of war thanks to the Panama Carnal. Ultimately the east could finally get to the west without going around their elbow to get to their mouth. When finally finished in October 1913,the Carnal came in at 48 miles and 200 feet wide.Their were many problems that kept it from being built. I would not want a long jorney at all.

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  8. The Panama Canal helps boats get to where they need to go.The Panama Canal helps boats get to different oceans.It also helps us get water.The Panama Canal seperates the water and makes the water go together and go into land.

    But sometimes were problems.These problems kept the Canal from being built.France had begun to build a wall.

    So if we did not have the Panama Canal a lot of things would be different.And that is why the Panama Canal is important.

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  9. Do you think the panama canal was necessary? Have you ever heard the saying I had to go around my elbow to get to my mouth. Well the Panama Canal helped to prevent you from having to say that. The Panama Canal Seperates Mexico and South America. Did you know it took them ten years to complete it. When they got finished it launched the countrys to expand there trading. Do you think the Panama Canal was Necessary?

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