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Newspaper Page Text
THE STORY OF THE GREAT PANAMA CANAL
BY THE MAN WHO BUILT IT!
Now 7i Is Finished, Col. Goethals Tells How He Will Use
It and How He Will Defend It.
PART I IF.
BY COL. GEORGE WASHINGTON GOETHALS.
(Copyright, 1913, by the Newspaper Enterprise Association in the United
States, Great Britain, France and Germany.)
An earth dam across the Chagres
at Gatun impounds the water of the
river and creates the lake which con
stitutes the highest level of the Pan
ama canal. The dam is 7,500 feet
long over all, measured along the top.
It is 2,100 feet wide at the base, 308
feet through at the water surface,
and 100 feet wide at the top, which
is 115 feet above sea level. It
crosses two valleys separated by a
The dimensions of the dam have
been criticized as excessive and un
warranted, but its designers consid
ered it desirable, in view of the
amount of material available, that
ample provisions be made against
every force which may affect its
safety, and that a barrier be made
so that the layman, without engineer
ing knowledge, would recognize its
stability. It extends from the hill in
which the locks are constructed to
Spillway Hill, thence along the spur
or hog-back of the hill on the west
side of the valley.
The locks are in pairs, so that if
any lock is out of service navigation
will not be interrupted. Thus, also,
when all the locks are in use, the
passage of shipping will be expedited
by using'one set of locks for the as
cent and the other for the descent.
The locks are 110 feet wide and have
usable lengths of 1,000 feet.
The system of filling adopted con
sists of a culvert in each side wall
feedmg laterals perpendicular to the
axis of the lock, from which are
openings upward into the lock cham
ber. This system distributes the
water as evenly as possible over the
entire horizontal area of the lock and
reduces the disturbance in the cham
ber when the latter is being filled or
The middle or separating wall con
tains a single culvert of the same
area as the culverts in the side walls,
which feeds in both directions
through laterals designed to operate
against a head from either direction.
This arrangement permits communi
cation between the chambers of twin
locks, so that water may be passed
trombone lock to the other of the
pair, effecting a saving of water.
The entire lock can be filled or
emptied, using one culvert, in 15 min
utes and 42 seconds, and in 7 min
utes and 51 seconds when both cul
verts are used.
The lock gates are of the mitering
type, double leaf, straight gates,
varying in height from 45 feet 7
inches to 79 feet; the length of each
leaf is about 65 feet.
It has been accepted as a funda
mental feature of the design that at
each flight of locks there must al
ways be two barriers separating the
high level Irom the level next below.
To carry this out, two sets of miter
ing gates are placed at the upper and
two at the lower end of each of the
uppermost locks in each flight
In addition, a chain device is used
to guard the barrier gates against
accident and so controlled as to be
capable of checking a ship, of 10,000
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