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On August 15, the Panama Canal will welcome its Centennial celebration. Here are photos that show that after 100 years, little has changed at the Panama Canal and it remains as ageless as Joan Rivers.

Gatun Locks – THEN


Roscoe G. Searle, National Geographic; US Library of Congress /;

We start on the Caribbean side, where the Gatun Locks connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Panama Canal. These gigantic metallic gates “lock” and fill up with water, to lift (or lower) boats from sea level, to dry land – and connect inland with a natural freshwater lake, The Gatun Lake.

Gatun Locks – NOW

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IMG_0189 2The locks fill with water, elevating the boat on level with Lake Gatun.

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Culebra Cut – THEN


US Library of Congress / Via ; ;;

The Culebra Cut are the man-made dredges that connect the Gatun Lake (a natural fresh water lake) to the Pedro Miguel Locks (which eventually connect to the Pacific!). It took 32 years (of combined French & American effort) to excavate the dirt from the mountain ridge.

Culebra Cut – NOW


IMG_9688_1    Ships pass through Gatun Lake to traverse over to the Pacific side. The path has become a popular route for cruise ships.


   small boats mingle with large container ships.




Pedro Miguel Locks – THEN

Pedro Miguel
US Library of Congress / Via;;

The Gatun Lake eventually make way to the Pedro Miguel Locks, which lead the way to the Miraflores Locks, the gatekeeper to the Pacific Ocean!

Pedro Miguel Locks – NOW

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Miraflores Locks – THEN

US Library of Congress; Ernest Hallen, National Geographic / Via;;;

Finally – the Miraflores Locks connect the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean! The gates lock and fill with water, and raise (or lower) boats 43-64 feet to sea level, where they carry their journey to the Pacific!

Miraflores Locks – NOW

_IMG_0001 5IMG_9785_1 2The birds are the gatekeepers to the PacificIMG_9794 5
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IMG_9668 2IMG_9965 5Even massive ships like these are guided through to keep steady while the water floods into the canal.IMG_9884 2IMG_9801 2IMG_9705 2IMG_9851 2IMG_9808 2


Over the years a few things have changed…

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The Port of Balboa (Pacific side) –

00005 (Custom)Via    Panama Railroad Station, Balboa, 1928

—– NOW

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The Port of Colon (Caribbean side) –


Via     Fort Sherman – 1917 – Barracks

—- NOW

IMG_9583 (1)     Barracks, unused

IMG_9580 (1)   Fort Sherman – unused, deserted

But – through the years, the Canal continues to inspire…

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Humility, in witnessing the many hands that help guide your ship,

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Awe, in realizing man’s smallness …



… And the burst of excitement when finally arriving at the other side – and entering the wide, wide Sea!

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