Tonight's picture was the photo of Mattie we featured on our 2004 Christmas card. I found capturing holiday photos of Mattie during the toddler years challenging, but I always liked a challenge. Though Mattie wasn't necessarily looking directly at the camera there was something very angelic about his face in this photo. As I look at our tree in the background of this picture, it makes me recall when we used to decorate for the holidays. Many of the ornaments on our tree we bought at antique stores. Mainly because I love older ornaments. They remind me of my childhood and these ornaments seemed to have more character and capture a story. Over the years, our tree also had many new additions created by Mattie. All of which I still have packed away with my other ornaments.
Quote of the day: Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them. ~ Richard L. Evans
The most expansive man-made project ever undertaken was the construction of the Panama Canal. It took more than 34 years to complete and cost the lives of over 25, 000 people, who died from either tropical diseases or landslides. The canal is one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century, managing to do what nature forgot to do --- connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific, reducing the 12,000 mile sailing distance between New York and San Francisco by more than 7000 miles.
The Panama Canal opened in 1914, fulfilling a dream 400 years in the making. The 51 mile route cuts through sheer granite and dense jungle, creating a vital trade route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. More than 1 million ships have traveled through the Canal’s intricate lock system, one of the most challenging engineering projects ever undertaken. Gatun Locks are the first set of locks on the Atlantic side. The three-step process lifts a ship 85 feet above sea level and into Gatun Lake (a man- made lake, which took the United States three years to fill). A complete transit to the Pacific would include two more sets of locks. The Pedro Miguel Locks takes a ship down 26 feet and the Miraflores Locks has two more steps down, lowering a vessel another 58 feet. This set of locks is the largest and tallest due to fluctuating tides.
The water used to raise and lower the ship in each set of locks is obtained from Gatun Lake by gravity and poured into the locks through a main culvert system that extends under the locks chambers from the sidewalls and the center wall. The beauty of the Lake is the water is naturally replenished from the rain forest (since it rains daily in Panama!).
The first firm effort to build an all-water route through Panama began with the French in 1880, but financial troubles and diseases made the initiative fail. After its independence in 1903 from Colombia, Panama negotiated an agreement with the US for the construction of the Canal which the US would finish on August 15, 1914 and then managed the waterway until 1999. At noon on December 31, 1999, Panama took over full operation, administration and maintenance of the Canal in compliance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties negotiated with the US in 1977.
In 2014, when the Panama Canal completes 100 years of operation, the expansion will be complete as well. This will enable the waterway to double its capacity to handle the increasing demand of worldwide trade. It is said that the excavation for this new lock system produced so much debris, that 63 Egyptian pyramids could have been developed and erected from this material.
Goethals completed the work started by Stevens. The complex where Goethals’ monument is situated is cleverly designed. Because the building behind the statue sits at 85 feet high (to commemorate the 85 feet ships must traverse from sea level to the Gatun Lake in the locks) and the distance between buildings is 1000 feet (the length of an actual lock system).