Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, & Technology
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Leonardo's Miter Gate
Languedoc Canal
Caledonian Canal
Panama Canal Zone

The Panama Canal

Panama Canal Zone
French Project
Gatun Dam and Locks
Culebra Cut
Opening Panama Canal

Centuries of Civil Engineering

Nichols, A.B., Office Engineer, Culebra, Canal Zone, Panama
Panama Canal Notebooks.
Albums of photographs, circa 1882-1920. 3 volumes
Water Supply
Image Index


A.B. Nichols began his assignment in Panama as assistant engineer at Gatun on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus, where he worked for a year until June 1905. The American plan for the canal called for locks, rather than a sea-level passage as the French had attempted, and the largest of the various lock sites was Gatun, with three levels of chambers. The enormous concrete and steel chambers were built in pairs to handle two-lane traffic of ships as large as the Titanic.

Another feature at Gatun was the dam on the Chagres River that created a man-made lake as a pathway for ships to travel across most of the Isthmus. The Gatun Dam is a key element in the canal design, for it not only allows ships to sail across most of the Isthmus, it provides hydroelectric power for the Canal Zone, including the electrical mechanisms of the canal locks.



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