Transits of Panamax vessels through the newly enlarged Panama Canal

[TAP the link to start video]

This documentary is an 11-minute compilation of the configuration of the new Panama Canal and how it will operate upon completion with the largest vessels in the world transiting through it,  including the elimination of locomotives to pull the vessels through the canal system.

The new operation will use each vessels’ own power to make its own way through the new Panama Canal as well as tugboats from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, as illustrated in this video.  

Watch this new canal system at work.

How the Dutch protect against flooding

Two thousand years ago, the land was an alluvial plain. Over the next thousand years, the Dutch built dikes around the highest land. In more recent times, the Dutch added the familiar Windmill pumps, and today pumps dot the landscape of The Netherlands to remove water accumulated from the deadliest of storms.

This particular set of gargantuan ‘sea doors or gates’ pictured here automatically closes upon unusual Alevel rises when the pressure of the sea pushes the the two ‘sea gates’ together closing off the mouth of a major river running into a highly populated area of the country. Called Maeslantkering, the project concluded in 1997. So far these ‘sea doors’ have closed only once since completion of construction. In response to millions who live under the constant threat of flooding, the government of The Netherlands has built an intricate system relying on dams,levees,and pumps, as well as a system  of smaller scale dikes, dams, and secondary lock structures to manage the threat.

Within the last few years, the Dutch government unveiled a $3 billion program called ‘Room for the River’, involving 14 different infrastructure projects over several decades, allowing the sea water in, not out. In 2013, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ‘floated’ a similar program for low-lying areas in New York City. It’s worth considering. If there is any country this country should look to for a paradigm in intelligently managing the water, it is undoubtedly The Netherlands. They’ve been doing it successfully for hundreds of years.

The Ancient Floating Gardens and Canals of Mexico City’s Xochomilco (“So-Cho-Mil-Co”) Part I

1950's colorized photo postcard of reclaimed and canalized Lake Xochimilco, along with farmers on canal boats.
1950’s colorized photo postcard of canalized Lake Xochimilco

Predating the Hispanic Period and geographically south of the main capital city of Mexico was an ancient large lake called Lake Xochomilco. Over the centuries, beautiful flowers and agricultural products were grown above the water on tall stalks, anchored to trees and filled in the rich mulch and soils from the lake bottom. Eventually, early farmers in the area separated by the capital city built canals and colorful canal boats for transit to and from the central Mexico City with their produce.

Over the centuries, Mexico City has grown outwardly, incorporating this former lake bed covering 48 square miles, sustaining a population of almost half a million, mostly farmers.  In 1928,  Xochomilco became recognized as an independent city.  For hundreds of years, these farmers cultivated their lush flowers, plants, and produce above the water, traveling on these colorful canal boats. On Sundays, tourists and townspeople have travelled to see these brightly colored boats filled with their produce for market. Some tourists have boarded these canal boats to tour these canals and view the ancient methods of growing produce.

Farmers on their canal boats tending to their crops above the waters of Lake Xochimilco.
Farmers on their canal boats tending to their crops

Despite Xochomilco’s status as an independent city, Mexico City has drained off much of the water for its own needs and drilled wells for more water, which has caused subsidence of the land created by the canal people who populated the Lake.  The draining off of potable water has left the lake people with degraded land above the water and non-potable water.  The need to protect this ancient cultural site has caused UNESCO to place Xochomilco on the World Heritage Sites list.

Wanderlust Wednesday: The Venice of the North; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: the Venice of America.

The City of Fort Lauderdale has promoted itself as the ‘Venice of America’ for almost  a century because of its  more than one hundred miles of manmade and natural canals throughout the 36-square-mile city.  But before it proclaimed itself the ‘Venice of America’ beginning in the 1920s, its weekly newspaper advertised the town on its masthead as the ‘Gateway to the Everglades’.  Under Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward (1905-1909), the State of Florida began a massive project to drain the Everglades to open up millions of acres of arable land for agriculture on a scale the world had never known.  The plan was to dredge five canals from Lake Okeechobee to both Florida coasts. The first to reach the Lake was the New River Drainage Canal in 1912, starting at Fort Lauderdale; hence the moniker, ‘Gateway to the Everglades’.

“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin,” from “The Fault in Our Stars.”   Amsterdam, nicknamed the “Venice of the North,” is a city I would like to visit as part of my Wanderlust Wednesday. My friend, […]

Commercial Acetylene Gas Generator, ca. 1905

In the short period of time between kerosene or oil lamps and electricity, many cities, towns, and villages, hotels and  businesses throughout America relied upon the often dangerous acetylene gas generator.  Such also was the case for canal dredges and excavators running day and night, twenty-four hours a day.  The generators mixed calcium carbide and […]