The Panama Canal, one of the brightest gems in engineering history, was officially opened by US President Woodrow Wilson on July 12, 1920.

The canal was built by the United States to create a commercial passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

A ship travelling from New York to San Francisco can now save 7872 miles using the Panama Canal. Previously, such a trip would have entailed a treacherous rounding of Cape Horn at the foot of South America.

It revolutionised world shipping patterns and became a strategic and economic asset to the US.

Taking 34 years to build, from 1880 to 1914, the huge feat of ingenuity was opened to commercial traffic on August 15, 1914. The steamship SS Ancon was the first vessel to pass through.

France had made an attempt to build a canal. Although it failed, the initial French excavation gave the US a head start.

At the time no single effort in America history had cost so much financially. The American expenditure from 1904 to 1914 amounted to $352,000,000, far more than anything constructed by the US up to that time.

The French and American cost together totalled $639,000,000.

The loss of human life during the construction of the 51-mile canal was equally costly. It’s estimated over 80,000 people took part in the work and over 30,000 lost their lives through accidents and disease.