October 30, 2021
Aspirations of building a canal through the isthmus of Panama go as far back as the 1500s. King Charles of Spain and Count Ferdinand de Lessep of France both made inroads into connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The idealized Panama Canal offered a tantalizing shortcut from Europe to Asia. Unfortunately, for those enterprises, the scale of the project overwhelmed them. Not to mention, endless cases of yellow fever and malaria that put a disease-ridden end to their lofty ambitions.
America Steps In
It took the United States and President Theodore Roosevelt to throw the country’s considerable resources at the daunting project. Nevertheless, it took over $350 million, which translates to $10,223,049,882 in today’s money, and thousands of lives to complete one of the seven wonders of the modern world.