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GATUN LAKE PEACOCK BASS FISHING CHARTERS

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Panama Peacock Bass Fishing Charter Map of Lake Gatun

TO BOOK A FISHING CHARTER EMAIL
captaintony@panamafishingandcatching.com OR CALL (507) 6622-0212 and 6505-9553

PEACOCK BASS FISHING BOAT– 24-foot center console Super Panga with 50 hp Yamaha 4 stroke that cruises at 30 mph. Maximum of 2 adult anglers for Peacock bass charter fishing trips. Excellent boat for Peacock Bass Fly Fishing trips.

Panama Peacock Bass Fishing charters PEACOCK BASS FISHING CHARTER – One day, 8 hours Peacock Bass fishing charter with Peacock bass fishing guide. Bottled water, sodas, ice and bait are provided. Boat landing is about a 40 minute drive from any Panama City hotel or residence. Ground transportation is easily arranged. Peacock Bass fishing charters Starting at $460 a day for 2 anglers.
CHARTER FISHING QUARRY– Peacock Bass or ‘Sargento’ (Of the Cichla Monoculus clade but is actually Cichla Pleiozona) average size of 2-3 pounds, a 5 to 8 pound Peacock Bass is a trophy. However this species (Cichla Pleiozona) has been caught in Gatun lake up to a maximum size of 15 pounds.
CHARTER FISHING COLATERAL QUARRYTarpon (Sábalo Real), Snook (Róbalo), Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus), Vieja (tropical bluegill), Machaca (Sábalo Pipón) and Jaguar Guapote (Rainbow Bass)
CHARTER FISHING TACKLE- Penn, Shimano, Quantam, Mitchell, Diawa rods and spinning reels, Fly fishing trips welcome and encouraged but I have no fly fishing equipment.
PEACOCK BASS FISHING WATER CONDITIONS – Freshwater peacock bass fishing charter is accomplished on a large clear fresh water tropical jungle lake with numerous virgin jungle Islets & islands. From May – December Gatun Lake is mostly flat calm with occasional afternoon squalls. January – April is the dry season with typical afternoon breezes from the north creating a 1 to 3 foot chop in open water passes. Conditions are optimal for fly fishing trips or plug casting all year. Panama Peacock Bass Charter Fishing Lady

PEACOCK BASS CHARTER FISHING PARADISE

Gatun Lake is a man made lake created in 1913 by damming the Charges River, establishing an integral part of the Panama Canal which forms a freshwater bridge between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, allowing ships to pass either way. It was decided in 1913 that the impenetrable jungle surrounding and within Lake Gatun would help to form the best defense of the Panama Canal. To this day these areas have remained virtually untouched by human intrusion and are one of the few accessible areas on earth that various native Central American animal species can be observed undisturbed in their natural habitat. In fact, Lake Gatun hosts the world famous Barro Colorado Island, which was established for scientific study when the lake was formed and is today operated by the Smithsonian Institution. Many of the most important ground breaking scientific and biological discoveries of the animal & plant kingdom from insects to primates, phytosociology to cedar trees originated here.

The area flooded in the creation of Lake Gatun encompasses approximately 200 square miles a vast area with unfathomable opportunities for sportfishing trips and also serves to provide the millions of gallons of water necessary to operate the locks each time a ship passes through the Panama Canal. At the time it was formed Gatun Lake was the largest man made lake in the world. Consequently the lake provides a considerable abundance of incredible natural underwater habitat for various species of freshwater gamefish to multiply and grow, great for Peacock Bass fishing trips and freshwater sport fishing charters in general. Peacock Bass or ‘Sargento’, as they are known locally, are not a native game fish of Panama but originate from the Amazon, Rio Negro and Orinoco river basins of South America where they are called Tucanare or Pavon and are considered a premier sportfishing charter quarry. There are over 16 species of Peacock Bass, all highly regarded on freshwater sportfishing charters. A 2006 study co-authored by Dr. Sven Kullander of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and Dr. Efrem Ferreira of INPA, in Manaus, Brazil thoroughly revised the taxonomy (classification) of the genus Cichla. In this newer publication, the authors sorted through the historical collections of early 19th century pioneers such as Humboldt and Agassiz and 20th century explorers such as Michael Goulding to update and correct the scientific names and recorded geographic distributions of the world's greatest freshwater gamefish. Until 2006 only 5 species of Peacock bass were recognized as valid and it was thought that the species in Gatun Lake was either Cichla Monoculus or a new species which had not been recognized yet, chiefly because it was one of the few Peacock bass with 4 distinct stripes and was utilized extensively in the freshwater aquarium trade since World War II. We now have verification that the Gatun Lake species is in fact Cichla Pleiozona one of the new species recognized as valid in the 2006 revision. Cichla Monoculus Peacock Bass species It is suspected that this species was introduced into some freshwater lakes and rivers of Panama by accident as early as 1958 initiating hitherto unknown sportfishing charter opportunities. Since then they have proliferated at an astounding rate and have virtually taken over to become the dominant angling sportfishing and fly fishing gamefish species in Gatun Lake of the Panama Canal. This translates into fantastic Peacock Bass fishing charters and bass fishing trips in the Panama Canal. All Peacock Bass are cichlids, members of the Cichlidae family that is well known in sport fishing and to aquarium hobbyists. The Cichlidae family includes the popularly collected Oscar, Astronotus ocellatus, the angelfish, Pterophyllum scalare, as well as the important food fish tilapia. There are approximately 1,300 species of Cichlids with 105 genera which are widely distributed throughout Africa, South and Central America, Syria, southern India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Iran. Cichlids are a colorful species many which are quite popular for sportfishing charters and with aquarium hobbyists. Most have bodies that are moderately deep and compressed; this is especially so for the peacock basses, which, though similar in shape to largemouth bass, are more sleek and appear more muscular, without the sagging belly that big largemouth bass develop. The various peacock basses are among the largest and most predatory of Cichlids thereby the most highly regarded on a freshwater sport fishing trip. They are an exceptionally aggressive game fish which creates some interesting opportunities for a Peacock Bass fishing guide to experiment with various lures and for testing fly patterns on bass fly fishing trips. Panama Peacock Bass Fishing Tips for catching big Peacock bass As with piranha, many names have been used for different peacock bass species in sportfishing, however they are generally all known worldwide as Tucunare or Pavon and Peacock Bass. The terms Peacock Bass, Pavón and Tucunaré are often used by anglers on bass sportfishing trips and non-scientists to generally refer to any of these fish types despite their particular species or diverse characteristics. Peacock Bass are an outstanding gamefish for fly fishing or any type of sport fishing and are excellent table fare; the larger species are commercially significant in many countries. All Peacock Bass have similar shapes and feature a distinguishing coloration. Several are especially brilliant and they are among the most colorful of all game fish in freshwater or saltwater sportfishing, which adds to the excitement on Peacock Bass fishing trips. The coloration and patterns displayed by each species of Peacock Bass varies and prominence of species-specific coloration and patterns vary within the species due chiefly to age, sex, breeding and water clarity. This has caused much confusion and misidentification among anglers on a sport fishing trip and even scientists. Most Peacock Bass species have an eminent oscillated spot at the base of the caudal fin similar to that of the peacock bird hence the name – Peacock Bass. In Panama fishing, due to years of U.S. influence through military bases, the Canal and a lot of sportfishing G.I.s fly fishing and going on Peacock Bass fishing charters in Lake Gatun, the Peacock Bass variety found here was colloquially referred to as ‘Sargento’ or Sergeant, principally due to the prominent longitudinal stripes displayed along its sides. The fact that the Panama Peacock Bass variety has 4 stripes instead of the usual 3 is the principal feature, which distinguishes the Cichla Pleiozona from other Peacock Bass species.
Paul Reiss at www.AcuteAngling.com has been kind enough to share his vast knowledge garnered from lengthy research into Peacock bass types and species with the following information he recently sent me.
Peacock Bass Fishing Charter "The species in Gatun has been considered to be C. pleiozona, as described in Kullander's revision of the genus Cichla in 2006. C. pleiozona is in the C. monoculus clade and is very similar morphologically, however has been identified as a distinct species. In my view, the pictures on the Panamafishingandcatching.com website reinforce his opinion, which I've copied below.
Almost all specimens of C. pleiozona possess a distinct dark vertical bar on the caudal peduncle, which is very rarely seen in C. monoculus,and C. kelberi. Out of 22 specimens of C. pleiozona,the fourth bar is missing only in the 109 mm specimen(NRM 19131) and one adult specimen(INPA 24069) from Lago Fortaleza. Three other specimens from Lago Fortaleza (INPA 24074)however, possess the fourth bar. There are no morphometric differences between C. monoculus,C. pleiozona, and C. kelberi. We are unaware of preserved specimens of the species of Cichla introduced into the Rio Chagres drainage in Panamá, and reported by Zaret & Paine (1973), but photographs in Zaret (1980),and posted on websites by recreational fishermen consistently show four dark vertical bars (bars 1-4), and the Chagres species may thus be C. pleiozona. According to Zaret & Paine (1973) the introduced stock was brought from rearing tanks in Buga, Colombia, in 1965. Buga is located in the Cauca Valley, which has no natural occurrence of Cichla, and the stock must have originated elsewhere."
Peacock bass fishing CHARTER ON Gatun Lake the Panama Canal A little back ground on this, also from the Paul Reiss Acute Angling website at Peacock Bass ID Guide which is a great site for all you ever wanted to know about Peacock bass with many superb images.
“In 2003, after sorting through almost 200 years of data, ichthyologists published a previously unparalleled checklist of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America (CLOFFSCA 2003). This work defined 5 relatively well known and distinct species of peacock bass in the genus Cichla. These species are Cichla temensis, Cichla monoculus, Cichla orinocensis, Cichla ocellaris, Cichla intermedia, and comprise the group that was initially best known to anglers and aquarists alike. It was recognized even at that time, however, that several additional species existed and that additional taxonomic work was necessary. A 2006 study co-authored by Dr. Sven Kullander of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and Dr. Efrem Ferreira of INPA, in Manaus, Brazil thoroughly revised the taxonomy (classification) of the genus Cichla (the category of fishes to which peacocks belong). In this newer publication, the authors sorted through the historical collections of early 19th century pioneers such as Humboldt and Agassiz and 20th century explorers such as Michael Goulding to update and correct the scientific names and recorded geographic distributions of the world's greatest freshwater gamefish. Peacock Bass Fishing Super Panga for peacock bass sport fishing charters Kullander & Ferreira named 9 new species and resurrected one old name, increasing the number of described species in the genus to 15.”
What this means to Peacock Bass anglers is that there are many more species of great game fish recognized as Peacock bass and that each category will tentatively have a world record standing! It also means that we have one of the rarest of Peacock Bass right here in Panama and they are abundant! However this will have to wait for the IGFA to list these new species of Peacock bass and as has been exposed in the past this won’t happen unless an IGFA bigshot or someone with media clout catches one and influences them to list their new world record ignoring any fish ever caught and submitted in the past by regular folks.

Peacock Bass in general are probably the most exciting and aggressive fresh water gamefish in the world and Peacock Bass charter fishing is the most thrilling to Bass anglers. The Sargento is the most colorful and beautiful of the Peacock Basses therefore the most sought after by Peacock Bass fishing guides. Panama peacock bass sport fishing trip It is also the most stubborn fighter when hooked sport fishing heightening the excitement on Peacock Bass fishing trips. Panama fishing in clear water lakes reveals them to be a colorful gamefish displaying a rainbow like array of green, gold, black and yellow especially in clear water and when breeding. Breeding colors are distinctly brilliant and the males display an enlarged hump on the head creating a ferocious, belligerent appearance. When Panama fishing Peacock Bass that are in this state they are easily agitated and fearless attacking almost any moving thing in their territory, one of many good Peacock bass fishing tips. These colors can vary in intensity in a matter of seconds depending on the Sargento’s mood and surroundings. He is actually chameleon like in his ability to hide among the extensive underwater vegetation found while on Panama fishing charters in Gatun lake. The Sargento has a big mouth, bigger than that of the Black Bass and is far more prolific and aggressive endearing them to Peacock Bass fishing guides and fly fishing enthusiasts. Juvenile and adult Peacock Bass found Panama fishing are most abundant in large bodies of water such as rivers and lakes. They prefer underwater structure such as plants and are not attracted by fast moving water. Gatun Lake of the Panama Canal provides the perfect ambiance for Panama fishing of Peacock Bass and is one of the greatest Peacock Bass fishing lakes worldwide.

The extensive underwater vegetation encountered in Lake Gatun of the Panama Canal, as the area was all virgin jungle when it was flooded in 1913, no doubt aids the tremendous numbers of Panama Peacock Bass found on a Panama fishing trip in this the most famous of Panama Peacock Bass fishing lakes. PEACOCK BASS FISHING GUIDE CATCH Peacock Bass in Panama grow to about 12 inches in their first year and are sexually mature of which plenty are encountered on a Panama fishing charter. Growth rates vary depending on food supply but they generally attain 3 - 4 pounds in two to three years at this size and stage they are a handful on light spinning gear or a fly rod if stumbled upon on a Panama fishing charter. Peacock Bass in Gatun Lake spawn throughout the year laying sticky eggs in shallow still water on a hard substance such as a rock or submerged log. The Sargento is not normally cannibalistic and both parents guard the eggs and young until about 4 weeks old when the oscillated spot distinguishes itself at the base of the tail. Home experiments have led to some Peacock Bass fishing tips which indicate that Panama Peacock Bass will not eat even normal forage species if an ocellus or eye like marking is painted on the tail, and that they will gobble up any smaller Peacock Bass they can fit in their mouth if the ocellus is scraped off. Therefore one of several Peacock bass fishing tips is that it is non productive to use lures or live bait with similar markings when on Panama fishing trips for Peacock Bass, however when sportfishing charter targets are Tarpon or Snook in Gatun Lake these work exceptionally well. Young Sargento of up to 3 pounds form moving schools of 20-100 fish foraging and feeding on whatever smaller fish or organisms they can find to satisfy their unquenchable hunger. Good Peacock Bass fishing guides on Gatun Lake are adept at finding these sport fishing haunts for their Peacock Bass fishing charters.
These marauding hordes of Panama Peacock Bass are constantly on the move from one grass bank to another in Lake Gatun and are notorious for busting and frothing on the surface when they encounter schools of baitfish which is a perfect scenario for fly fishing or sportfishing. A Peacock Bass fishing guide will many times pass over fishy looking areas in Lake Gatun searching for this activity to ensure successful Peacock Bass fishing charter action. Panama peacock bass fly fishing trip Sargento over three pounds encountered on a Panama fishing trip in Gatun Lake usually move in packs of 4 to 12 fish and at over 5 pounds they are almost always encountered in pairs, one of the essential Peacock bass fishing tips for any of Panamas Peacock Bass fishing Lakes. At over five pounds they are among the apex predators of the lakes and rivers they inhabit. Some good Peacock bass fishing tips to remember that will help make a Peacock Bass fishing charter lively are that although Peacock Bass are accomplished ambush predators, striking from cover to engulf hapless victims they are in fact mostly sight feeders attracted by swift erratic movement routinely chasing down prey sighted from a distance in open water, a characteristic which is greatly admired on Panama fishing charters and sportfishing trips. They do not feed well in low light conditions or at night. So night time Peacock Bass fishing charters would not be advisable although the tarpon fishing and snook sport fishing charters are many times spectacular after dark on Gatun Lake. The best methods used on Panama sport fishing trips for Sargento are Fly fishing, plug casting, trolling and jigging using a wide variety of flies, poppers, swimming plugs, and spinners and live or dead bait. A novice angler on Peacock Bass fishing charters in Lake Gatun can typically expect to catch between 10-20 bass from 1 to 3 pounds in a morning among the howls and cries of monkeys, parrots and toucans. If adept at fly fishing an angler can expect to catch many more by midday. Father and Son Peacock Bass Fishing Larger more solitary Panama Peacock Bass can be found by an experienced Peacock Bass fishing guide in the early mornings or late afternoons along the shallow edges of Gatun Lake in shaded areas foraging for food or breeding. As the sun rises higher they tend to move to deeper holes preferring structure such as steep underwater hills and great submerged trees or stumps. Bottom sport fishing charter methods and fly fishing with a sinking line are preferred on Peacock Bass fishing trips by most Peacock Bass fishing guides during these periods. Panama Peacock Bass of any size usually strike suddenly with a good jolt, immediately followed by several deep long runs for cover. If unsuccessful in his dashes for refuge he will surface in terrific head shaking acrobatic leaps many times somersaulting in mid air. Several more deep runs and jumps persistently follow even after he has been fought close to the boat. The Sargento doesn’t give up easily and is a worthy adversary on appropriate sport fishing tackle. While engaged in fighting one bass several others will be attracted by the angling commotion, ready to attack anything that falls in the water. It is considered advisable technique on Peacock Bass fishing trips for all anglers aboard to hook up as this causes more activity in the water attracting even more Peacock Bass including the bigger ones. Some more good Peacock bass fishing tips are that while on a Panama fishing charter if one bass is left always struggling in the water and the Peacock Bass fishing guide occasionally throws some live minnows overboard a feeding frenzy develops. Peacock Bass Fishing Panama guide catch The sport fishing action on these Peacock Bass fishing trips then becomes fast, furious and almost unending eventually seeming more like hard work than sport fishing. One word of caution and another of my Peacock bass fishing tips, a Sargento over five pounds is a mature fish and possesses considerable stamina; he is an angling handful even on 20 pound test, many Peacock Bass up to ten pounds and over have been lost by anglers using light lines. Use the new Spectra type fishing lines which are of higher strength and smaller diameter can be employed on regular bass fishing rods and reels to ensure that big Bass does not get away! Peacock Bass fishing charters in the Panama Canal Gatun Lake are the best way to teach young children and novice sport fishermen the art of angling. The continual sport fishing action encountered on Peacock Bass fishing charters and the extraordinary scenery a good Peacock Bass fishing guide can show you do plenty to entertain, enthrall and satisfy even well traveled outdoors men. Cichla Monoculus clade Cichla Pleiozona is probably the fastest growing and most prolific of the Peacock Basses, only the Cichla Temensis or Speckled Peacock bass surpasses it in attainable size and this species is never found in the great numbers associated with Peacock Bass fishing lakes in Panama especially Lake Gatun. The time, trouble and expense incurred on Peacock Bass fishing trips to go sportfishing for Speckled Peacock Bass in South America is in stark contrast to the easy 40-minute drive from Panama City to Gatun Lake for Peacock Bass fishing charters. The virgin rain forest jungle surroundings and active natural wildlife found on Panama's Peacock Bass fishing lakes is unequaled elsewhere. Although the Sargento is numerous and excellent table fare, prudence is advised by most Peacock Bass fishing guides as they can be over fished. A good Peacock Bass fishing guide will recommend Catch and Release or fly fishing with barbless hooks after a few have been boated for personal consumption.



THE PANAMA CANAL and GATUN LAKE

1910 DIGGING CULEBRA CUT 50 miles wide at its narrowest point the Isthmus of Panama was historically characterized by mountains, impenetrable jungle, deep swamp, torrential rains, hot sun, debilitating humidity, pestilence and some of the most geologically complex land formations in the world. Building a canal across Panama had already defied and defeated the technical expertise of one of the greatest nations on earth, France. Furthermore neither French engineers under de Lesseps nor the American effort were able to control the devastating Chagres River floods until construction of the Madden Dam above Gamboa in the 1930s. With the 1513 crossing of Vasco Nuñez de Balboa began the dream of digging a water passage across the Isthmus of Panama. King Charles ordered a survey for a water route from Atlantic to Pacific Oceans following the Chagres River. In 1534 this was the first survey for a proposed ship canal through Panama, and it more or less followed the course of the current Panama Canal. The 1848 discovery of gold in California caused a mass migration of people traveling across the Isthmus. Thousands crossed the Isthmus using the Panama Railroad during its construction and when operational. U.S. interest in a canal was keen. From 1870 to 1875 an Interoceanic Canal Commission was appointed by President Grant to evaluate the findings resulting from Navy expeditions. A report was prepared by the Commission in 1876 favoring a Nicaragua route. Following President McKinley's assassination, Theodore Roosevelt became president and for him, there was no romance about the project, no nonsense about following a dream. As far as Roosevelt was concerned the canal was practical, vital and indispensable to U.S. destiny as a World power hence a U.S. controlled canal was an utter necessity.

1910 GATUN LOCKS CONSTRUCTION On February 15, 1898 at a naval base in Cuba which had been established as a result of the Spanish-American War the battleship Maine was blown up, with 260 lives lost. The battleship Oregon stationed in San Francisco was ordered to proceed at once 12,000 miles around the Horn to restore order. The Battle of Santiago Bay was settled 67 days later when the vessel finally arrived off Florida clearly demonstrating the military significance of an Isthmian canal.

Roosevelt supported Panama’s independence movement by dispatching warships to both sides of the Isthmus; the Atlanta, Maine, Mayflower and Prairie at Colon and the Boston, Marblehead, Concord and Wyoming at Panama City effectively blocking Colombian sea advances. U.S. troops protected the American owned railroad and interior parts of Panama to obstruct Colombia from putting down the revolution. Roosevelt would later boast that "...I took the isthmus, started the canal and then left Congress not to debate the canal, but to debate me." On November 3, 1903 Panama declared independence from Colombia and signed a treaty granting the United States a sovereign canal concession. The founders of Panama had little choice as to refuse would have withdrawn all U.S. support and left them to deal with Colombia. The United States had finally achieved the control it required to begin the colossal work of a canal construction.

The U.S. canal construction effort began May 4, 1904 when Army Corps of Engineers officer Lieutenant Mark Brooke in a brief ceremony received the keys to the French storehouses and Ancon Hospital. Dr .William Crawford Gorgas and his staff were among the first to arrive in Panama which had been known for centuries as the “Fever Coast” because of sickness and death supposedly caused by "miasmal mists" stemming from the swamps. However some medical researchers were becoming more receptive to the idea of mosquitoes causing malaria and yellow fever. Widespread malaria and yellow fever epidemics were among the formidable difficulties that had to be overcome to build the Panama Canal. Eradication of the death dealing mosquito was urgent. In 1903 a scientific congress in Paris reviewed Dr. Walter Reed’s yellow fever work and proclaimed it a “scientifically determined fact” but still Commission officials believed Gorgas’s efforts to be a waste of time and money. However in 1905 John F. Stevens provided Gorgas with full support. As a result of Gorgas’s campaign, yellow fever was wiped out, the last case reported in Panama City on November 11, 1905. Chief engineer John F. Stevens immediately confronted and solved many problems between July 1, 1905 and April 1, 1907. The size of the labor force was tripled in six months under Stevens and whole communities were built to accommodate them. THE END OF THE DIGGING The Panama Railroad was completely overhauled as Panama was insufficiently developed or equipped to support the additional population created by the growing Canal labor force. The insubstantial equipment of the French was replaced with the finest and toughest available. Water and sewage systems were established, new buildings created and streets were paved. This construction employed nearly half of the 24,000 man work force. Stevens also developed the inventive system of Canal excavation and “spoil” disposal. He devised an ingenious complex of railroad tracks at different levels within the Cut. Col. Goethals under whose leadership the Canal was completed would say: "Stevens devised, designed, and made provision for practically every contingency connected with the construction and subsequent operation of the stupendous project... It is therefore to him, much more than to me, that justly belongs the honor of being the actual 'Genius of the Panama Canal...'"

Water is the key factor in the whole Panama Canal enterprise. Water lifts ships 85 feet above sea level to the surface of Gatun Lake where they float across the Continental Divide to then be lowered again in the opposite ocean. It serves to generate electrical power for the Canal to run. The Pacific-side locks were finished first, the single flight at Pedro Miguel second in 1911 and Miraflores in May of 1913. On May 20, 1913, shovels No. 222 and No. 230, which had been slowly narrowing the gap in Culebra Cut, met. The Cut had reached its full construction-era depth, 40 feet above sea level. On June 27, 1913 the last of the Gatun Dam spillway gates was closed, allowing the lake to now rise to full height. Dry excavation ended three months later. The last steam shovel lifted the last rock in the cut on the morning of September 10, 1913. On September 26, 1913 the tug Gatun made the first trial lockage of Gatun Locks. Further testing the system an earthquake struck on September 30, knocking seismograph needles off the scale. There were landslides throughout the country and cracked walls in some Panama City buildings but no damage whatsoever to any part of the Panama Canal. That same week six big pipes in the earthen dike at Gamboa flooded Culebra Cut. On October 10, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson pressed a button in Washington and relayed by telegraph from Washington to New York to Galveston to Panama the signal that blew the center of the dike to complete the flooding of the Cut and join it to Gatun Lake. The first complete Panama Canal passage by a self-propelled, ocean-going vessel took place on 7 January 1914 - when the Alexandre La Valley, an old French crane boat, made that first trip. Plans had originally been made for a grand celebration to mark the official opening of the Panama Canal on 15 August 1914, but the onset of World War One forced the cancellation of the planned festivities. The grand opening ended up as a modest affair, with the Canal cement boat, Ancon, piloted by Captain John Constantine, making the first official trip. There were no international dignitaries to witness the historic event, although Colonel Goethals, the Canal's Chief Engineer from 1907, followed the ship up through the Canal, thanks to the Panamanian railroad. USS Ancon first OFFICIAL NAVIGATION of the Panama Canal At $387,000,000, including the $10,000,000 paid to Panama and the $40,000,000 paid to the French company and an extra $12,000,000 for fortifications the Panama Canal was the single most expensive construction project in United States history. Remarkably, the canal cost $23,000,000 below the 1907 estimate in spite of the newness of the science, of landslides and of a design change to a wider canal. Over 30,000 lives were lost building the Canal and more than 80,000 persons were involved in the construction. French and American expenditures totaled $639,000,000 taking 34 years from the original endeavor in 1880 to essentially open the Canal in 1914. After more than 80 years of service, the concrete of the Panama Canal locks and spillways is in near perfect condition, which is among its most exceptional aspects.

David McCullough author of "The Path Between the Seas" wrote: "The creation of a water passage across Panama was one of the supreme human achievements of all time, the culmination of a heroic dream of over four hundred years and of more than twenty years of phenomenal effort and sacrifice. The fifty miles between the oceans were among the hardest ever won by human effort and ingenuity, and no statistics on tonnage or tolls can begin to convey the grandeur of what was accomplished. Primarily the canal is an expression of that old and noble desire to bridge the divide, to bring people together. It is a work of civilization."

TEDDY ROOSEVELT Theodore Roosevelt is widely credited for building the Panama Canal, and he never disputed the claim. However, of the three presidents whose terms coincided with Canal construction – Theodore Roosevelt, Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson – it was Howard Taft who provided the most active, hands-on participation over the longest period. Goethals, however, was to write, “The real builder of the Panama Canal was Theodore Roosevelt." Displayed at the Panama Canal Administration Building is a plaque with the following words engraved:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." - THEODORE ROOSEVELT



Gatun Lake reflection



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