Aug 15

99 Years Old: The Panama Canal

Thursday, August 15, 2013 2:00 AM

THE PANAM A CANAL OPENING.-With the successful passing of the Panama Railroad steamship Ancon through the canal on 15 August 1914, in nine and a half hours, the big man-made waterway, one of the wonders of the age, was officially opened to the commerce of the world, and is now ready for the use of all vessels drawing not to exceed 30 feet.-Army and Navy Journal.

SS Ancon passes through the newly opened Panama Canal

SS Ancon passes through the newly-opened Panama Canal

THE PANAMA CANAL’S NAVAL SIGNIFICANCE.-So much have the commercial values and aspects of the Panama Canal absorbed the interest of Americans that it may seem to many of them its opening for business in the midst of a worldshaking war partakes of the nature of an anachronism, even if the United States is not one of the belligerents. In reality there is a certain fitness in the realization of the dream of Balboa and the prediction of Goethe coming at this particular time. The canal is a great “short cut” open to the use of the world, but it is also a part of the scheme of the military defense of the United States. It doubles the mobility of both our land’ and sea forces, and was built with this consideration in mind. No event in our history gave more impetus to the construction of the canal by the United States than the voyage of the Oregon around Cape Horn to join our fleet in the Caribbean. The necessity of sending a battleship over so many thousand miles of ocean impressed the nation with the importance of having at our command a short route between the Pacific and the Atlantic. The arguments of war and peace are both represented in the canal, built, owned and managed by the United States in its sovereign capacity.-Boston Transcript.

Re-published in the ‘professional notes’ of the September-October, 1914 issue of Proceedings magazine.

 
 
 
  • mcallen99

    . . its opening for business in the midst of a worldshaking war partakes of the nature of an anachronism, even if the United States is not one of the belligerents.

    I wonder if any belligerents used the Canal while we were still neutral?

    I have been re-reading Robert K Massie’s ‘Castles of Steel‘. He notes that since 16 August the British “Foreign Office had been pressing to discover what rules the Americans would impose on belligerent warships. The U.S. State Department refused to give a straight forward answer . . .”. British Admiral Craddock (who was trying to run down von Spee’s East Asia Squadron) was still trying to get an answer in late October. He was concerned that von Spee would use the Canal instead of heading south around the tip of South America.

    But von Spee of course went south and met Craddock’s South Atlantic Squadron off the coast of Chile near Coronel. There on the first of November he sank the cruisers HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth with the loss of all British lives, including Admiral Craddock.