K- OF THE X >-
I -,F'I fi11 -O C0FJT IIriE T T L EI. I E-E. AuIC;IJ.:T I,.' 1'?14.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
Introductory....................................... .......... 5
Distances saved ...................................... .......... 7
Distances saved in trade routes between important areas........ 8
Tables of distances and time saved by canal route.............. 10
How a vessel is handled through the canal.......... ................ 16
Methods of depositing Panama Canal tolls in United States and
foreign countries ...........---------.... --.....-........ -16
Local agents unnecessary...... .....--.- ................ 17
Government pilots necessary. -......-- ....----..-.. ......... 18
Time required for transit..........---..-- ........-........... 18
Towing vessels through locks by towing locomotives ........... 20
Handling of ships in locks......................... ............. 21
Tug service..........................---------------------. 21
Facilities for shipping----.......--------.......-------......---. 22
Large dry dock at Balboa-.............................-..-. 22
Fuel-oil handling plants .....--------..............- -......... 22
Coaling plants..........--- .... . .........----- -........--.. 22
Water supply for ships--- ......-------............ .....-.... 22
General supplies-----...-...... .. -------...----- ------.... 24
Repairs ................... ......... ....................... 24
Hotel and hospital accommodations and cable connections...... 25
Method of application for supplies.. -.---............-...-.... 26
Prices of supplies ........... ----............................. 26
Charges for services .....---------- -..............-.....--.... 27
Savings in cost.........--------..--------...-----................... 30
Saving in cost of operation by use of canal-specific instances
cited where vessels have used canal-------------......... ....... 30
Tolls...................------..--- ----------............... ...... 33
Levied on cargo and passenger carrying capacity................ 33
Officials from whom tonnage certificates may be obtained....... 33
Time required to measure vessels at Isthmus .................. 33
Panama Canal tonnage -----...--..-------...........-....... 34
Rates of toll ....................... ....- ................-. 34
Tonnage measurement in commercial operations compared with
Panama Canal tonnage ........... -----.................. 34
Tolls collected to May 1, 1915 ............------------......----...... 36
Sailing ships ......-........ ... ................. ........... 37
Use of canal by sailing ships ......--...---..----............. 37
Savings effected .........-...... -.......-------------------. 38
The canal and the Navy---..............-....................-.. 41
Effectiveness of Navy increased---.........----..-- .....-.... 41
Monetary saving to United States ............................ 41
Features of construction..........-...---- --...... ............... -42
Location of canal------......-----------............. ........ 42
Principal features of canal construction......................... 44
Gatun Dam..........---------.......... -------- -....... 44
Gatun Spillway--.............. ---........---......-..... 44
Hydroelectric station ............... ...........- ........ 45
Gatun Lake ..................... .... .........-----.. 45
Gaillard Cut.---...-..--- ... ----------- ....-------...-.-. 46
Miraflores Lake ....-----------...............-......--.... 46
Locks-----... ----------------------------------------. 48
Traffic routes ..................-.........-......... ............. 51
First six months of canal operation-destination of vessels and
their cargo tonnage -------.............------............. 51
Coastwise trade of United States .............-... ..........-. 51
Nature of traffic between various points ....................... 52
Principal commodities shipped via canal ................. .... 52
Tabulation showing distribution of cargo tonnage .............. 56
Canal tonnage in terms of railway traffic........................ 56
Since the golden age of discovery inaugurated by Colum-
bus the quest for an all-water way from Europe to the Far
East, across Atlantic and Pacific, has been a world obsession.
The idea has possessed the minds of navigators, shippers,
business men, admirals, and Governments. Dozens of proj-
ects for the forcing of the passage have been advanced; thou-
sands of lives have been lost in the efforts.
On May 4, 1904, the Government of the United States took
possession of a strip of land 10 miles wide running across
the Isthmus of Panama and called the Canal Zone. On
August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal was opened to commerce.
This began the era of operation. This is the time of reali-
zation of the actual condition to which we have been looking
forward so long. To tell something of the canal in opera-
tion, how it is managed, the distances it saves, with the result-
ing economy in operation of vessels using the canal, and the
ways the trade is moving, are some of the purposes of this
From Colon, on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Pan-
ama, to Balboa, on the Pacific side, the distance by water,
around South America, is 10,500 nautical miles. Through
the canal that distance is reduced to less than 44 miles.
The difference in length of these routes, 10,456 miles, rep-
resents the maximum distance that can be saved to a vessel
by use of the canal. This maximum is more interesting geo-
graphically than commercially because vessels bound for the
Pacific coast by way of the Strait of Magellan would not
skirt the entire Atlantic coast of South America, but would
strike across the Caribbean, if from the United States, or the
central Atlantic, if from Europe, and proceed by the most
direct route consistent with commercial advantage. But the
saving is not purely hypothetical. The tug Reliance, once
employed in the Atlantic entrance of the canal, was trans-
ferred to the Pacific entrance by way of Magellan. The
voyage required 126 days, and the Reliance has since several
times made the transit from ocean to ocean in one day in pass-
ing back and forth between Colon and Balboa by way of the
What counts in the commercial value of the canal is not
the distance that could be saved but the distances that are
saved by vessels substituting the canal route for the earlier
'round-the-continent route in regular trade. Following are
some of the savings on great trade routes, between important
The great United States Atlantic port of New York, for
instance, is nearer to the great Pacific port of San Francisco,
through the use of the canal, by 7,873 nautical miles. The
distance of 13,135 miles by Magellan has been reduced to
8 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
5,262 miles by the canal. The water distance between these
ports is two-fifths what it used to be.
So far in the use of the canal, over 40 per cent of the
vessels which have passed through it have been engaged in
the coastwise trade of the United States-each of them
saving about 7,800 miles on each trip. If their average
speed be taken at 10 knots, they have averaged a saving of
over a month at sea on each voyage from coast to coast.
Where formerly the round trip of a 10-knot vessel required
about 55 days' actual steaming, the time at sea for the
same trip for the same vessel is now reduced to about 22
The next heaviest traffic through the canal is between the
Pacific coast of the United States and Europe. The canal
makes San Francisco nearer to Liverpool by 5,666 miles, a
saving of two-fifths of the old journey by Magellan. The
distance between San Francisco and Gibraltar has been
reduced from 12,571 miles to 7,621 miles, a saving of 4,950
miles or 39 per cent of the former distance.
From San Francisco to Buenos Aires, via Valparaiso and
Magellan, is approximately 7,610 miles which is shorter
than the route through the canal, by which the distance is
8,941 miles. To Rio de Janeiro, the distance via Magellan is
8,609 miles; by the canal 7,885 miles. To Pernambuco, on
the eastern promontory of South America, the distance via
Magellan is 9,748 miles; via the canal 6,746 miles. To Para
the distances via Magellan and via the canal are 10,852 and
5,642 miles, respectively.
From San Francisco to Freetown, on the west coast of
middle Africa, the distance by the most practicable route,
using the Strait of Magellan, is 11,380 miles. Through the
canal and by way of the island of Barbados, the distance is
7,277 miles. The new route is less than two-thirds of the
With reference to the trade between the Atlantic coast of
the United States and the west coast of South America, New
York is-nearer to Valparaiso by 3,717 miles by virtue of
the canal;- to Iquique, one of the great nitrate ports, by
OFFICIAL I-ANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL. 9
4,139 miles; and to Guayaquil by 7,405 miles. From New
York to Guayaquil the present distance of 2,765 miles is
approximately 27 per cent of the former distance-10,270
As to the Far East, New York is nearer to Yokohama
by 3,768 miles than formerly by way of the Suez Canal, but
the latter route is 18 miles shorter than the Panama route
for vessels plying between New York and Hongkong. New
York is 41 miles nearer Manila by Panama -than by Suez,
and 3,932 miles-nearer Sydney by Panama. New York is
now, by virtue of the Panama Canal, nearer than Liverpool
to Yokohama by 1,880 miles, and nearer than Liverpool to
Sydney by 2,424 miles.
The foregoing are typical instances of the changes of
routes effected by the opening of the canal. Detailed tabu-
lations of distances are given in the appended tables.
Reduction (in nautical miles) effected by the Panama Canal in length of all-water routes between ports of the Atlantic-Gulf seaboard of the
United States and Pacific ports, American and foreign.
Balti- Nor- Charles- Savan- Jak-
more. folk. ton. nah. ille.
Shanghai......1 1,461 1,543 1,876 2,046 2,224 2,224
2,683 2,757 12,879 3,693 3,766 3,779 3,813 3,885
985 1,799 1,872 1,885
922 1,044 1,858 1,931
San Jose de
Via San Francisco. Di2erence between
Panama and Magellan routes.
Difference between routes via Panama,
San Francisco, and Great Circle, and
via Suez, Colombo, Singapore, Hong-
kong, and Shanghai.
Difference between routes via Panama.
San Francisco, Yokohama, and via
Suez, Colombo, Singapore, and Hong-
Difference between routes via Panama,
San Francisco, Yokohama and
Shanghai, and via Suez, Colombo,
Difference between routes via Panama
San Francisco, and Yokohama, and
via Suez, Colombo, and Singapore.
Difference between routes via Panama,
Tahiti, Sydney, and Melbourne, and
via St. Vincent and Cape of Good
Diference between routes via Panama,
Tahiti, and Sydney, and via St. Vin-
cent, Cape of Good Hope, and Ade-
Diference between routes via Panama
and Tahiti and via St. Vincent, Cape
of Good Hope, Adelaide, and Mel-
DiJerence between routes via Panama
and Tahiti and via Straits of Magel-
1 Distance less via Suez.
3,454 13,488 3,560
Reduction (in nautical miles) effected by the Panama Canal in distancesfrom European ports to the ports of the west coast of America and
to New Zealand.
Sitka......... Magellan ..
Port Town- Magellan ..
San Francisco. Magellan....
San Diego.... Magellan....
San Jose de Magellan....
Dis- Less via
Dis- Less via Dis- Less via Dis- Less via Dis- Less via
stance. Panama. tance. Panama. tance. Panama. tance. anama.
1I I 1- -1- 1- 1--
Via San Francisco.
Suez route via Aden, Colombo, King
George Sound, and Melbourne.
Panama route via Tahiti.
Number of days saved, for vessels of different speeds, by the Panama Canal route between the Atlantic-Gulf ports of the United States and
Pacific ports, American and foreign.
New York, for vessels of- Charleston, for vessels of- Port Tampa, for vessels New Orlens, for vessels Galveston, for vessels of-
Sitka................... 35.9 32.3 26.8 22.9 20.0 37.6 33.8 28.1 24.0 20.9 40.0 35.9 29.8 25.5 22.2 40.5 36.4 30.2 25.9 22.6 40.8 36.7 30.5 26.1 22.7
Port Townsend......... 35.9 32.3 26.8 22.9 20.0 37.6 33.8 28.1 24.0 20.9 40.0 35.9 29.8 25.5 22.2 40.5 36.4 30.2 25.9 22.6 40.8 36.7 30.5 26.1 22.7
Portland, Oreg........ 35.9 32.3 26.8 22.9 20.0 37.6 33.8 28.1 24.0 20.9 40.0 35.9 23.8 25.5 22.2 40.5 36.4 30.2 25.9 22.6 40.8 36.7 30.5 26.1 22.7
San Francisco......... 35.9 32.3 26.8 22.9 20.0 37.6 33.8 28.1 24.0 20.9 40.0 35.9 29.8 25.5 22.2 40.5 36.4 30.2 25.9 22.6 40.8 36.7 30.5 26.1 22.7
SanDiego.............. 36.0 32.3 26.8 22.9 20.0 37.6 33.8 28.1 24.0 20.9 40.0 35.9 29.9 25.5 22.3 40.6 36.4 30.3 25.9 22.6 40.9 36.8 30.5 26.1 22.8
Acapulco .............. 36.9 33.2 27.5 23.5 20.5 38.5 34.6 28.8 24.6 21.5 40.9 36.8 30.5 26.1 22.8 41.5 37.3 31.0 26.5 23.1 41.8 37.6 31.2 26.7 23.3
San Josede Guatemala.. 38.0 34.2 28.4 24.3 21.2 40.2 35.7 29.7 25.4 22.1 42.1 37.9 31.5 26.9 23.5 42.6 38.4 31.9 27.3 23.8 43.0 38.7 32.1 27.5 24.0
Honolulu .............. 30.1 27.0 22.4 19.1 16.7 31.7 28.5 23.7 20.2 17.7 34.1 30.7 25.5 21.8 19.0 34.7 31.2 25.9 22.1 19.3 35.0 31.5 26.2 22.4 19.5
Guayaquil.............. 33.7 30.3 25.2 21.5 18.7 35.4 31.8 26.5 22.6 19.7 37.8 34.0 28.3 24.1 21.1 38.4 34.5 28.7 24.5 21.4 38.7 34.8 28.9 24.7 21.6
Callao................. 28.4 25.5 21.2 18.1 15.7 30.1 27.0 22.4 19.2 16.7 32.5 29.2 24.2 20.7 18.1 33.0 29.7 24.7 21.1 18.4 33.4 30.0 24.9 21.3 18.5
I queq................ 23.3 20.9 17.3 14.8 12.9 25.0 22.4 18.6 15.8 13.8 27.3 24.5 20.4 17.4 15.2 27.9 25.0 20.8 17.7 15.4 28.3 25.3 21.0 17.9 15.6
alparaiso........... 16.8 15.1 12.5 10.6 9.2 18.5 16.6 13.7 11.7 10.2 20.9 18.7 15.5 13.2 11.5 21.4 19.2 16.0 13.6 11.8 21.8 19.5 16.2 13.8 12.0
Coronel .............. 14.7 13.2 10.9 9.3 8.1 16.4 14.7 12.2 10.4 9.0 18.8 16.9 14.0 11.9 10.4 19.4 17.4 14.4 12.3 10.7 20.5 17.7 14.6 12.5 10.9
Yokohama.............. 16.9 15.2 12.6 10.7 9.3 20.7 18.5 15.4 13.1 11.4 25.3 22.8 18.9 16.1 14.0 25.9 23.3 19.3 16.5 14.4 26.2 23.6 19.5 16.7 14.5
Shanghai................ 8.1 7.3 6.0 5.1 4.4 11.9 10.7 8.8 7.5 6.5 16.6 14.8 12.3 10.4 9.1 17.1 15.4 12.7 10.8 9.4 17.4 15.7 13.0 11.1 9.6
Hongkoang ......... .... ................... 3.1 2.8 2.2 1.9 1.5 7.8 7.0 5.7 4.8 4.2 8.4 7.5 6.2 5.2 4.5 8.7 7.8 6.4 5.4 4.7
Manila.............. ....... ..... .......... 3.4 3.0 2.4 2.0 1.7 8.1 7.2 5.9 5.0 4.3 8.6 7.7 6.4 5.4 4.7 9.0 8.0 6.6 5.6 4.8
Adelaide.............. 7.5 6.7 5.6 4.6 4.0 10.4 9.3 7.7 6.5 5.6 14.0 12.5 10.4 8.8 7.7 14.6 13.1 10.8 9.2 8.0 14.9 13.3 11.0 9.4 8.1
Melbourne.............. 12.3 11.0 9.1 7.7 6.7 15.1 13.5 11.2 9.5 8.3 18.7 16.8 14.0 11.9 10.3 19.3 17.3 14.3 12.2 10.7 19.6 17.6 14.6 12.4 10.8
Sydney................. 17.7 15.8 13.1 11.2 9.7 20.5 18.4 15.3 13.0 11.3 24.1 21.7 18.0 15.3 13.4 24.6 22.2 18.4 15.7 13.7 25.0 22.4 18.6 15.9 13.8
Wellington.............. 11.0 9.9 8.1 6.9 6.0 12.7 11.4 9.4 8.0 6.9 15.1 13.5 11.2 9.5 8.3 15.6 14.0 11.6 9.9 8.6 15.9 14.3 11.8 10.5 8.7
Number of days saved, for vessels of different speeds, by the Panama Canal route between European ports and ports of Pacific America and
of New Zealand.
Liverpool, for vessels of- Hamburg, for vessels of- Antwerp, for vessels of- Bordeaux, for vessels of- Gibraltar, for vessels of-
a 0 a a -
Sa a a a a a a a a
Port Townsend ........
San Jose do Guatemala..
19.1 16.3 14.2 25.1
19.1 16.3 14.2 25.1
19.1 16.3 14.2 25.1
10.1 16.3 14.2 25.1
19.2 16.4 14.3 25.1
19.0 17.0 14.8 26.0
20.8 17.7 15.4 27.2
14.8 12.6 10.9 10.2
17.5 14.9 13.0 22.9
13.5 11.5 10.0 17.6
9.7 8.2 7.1 12.4
4.8 4.1 3.5 6.0
3.3 2.7 2.3 3.9
4.9 4.2 3.5 6.0
18.7 15.9 13.0 25.1 22.5 18.7 15.9 13.0 24.4 21.9 18.1 15.5 13.5 22.4 20.1 16.7 14.2 12.3
18.7 15.9 13.9 25.1 22.5 18.7 15.9 13.9 24.4 21.9 18.1 15.5 13.5 22.4 20.1 16.7 14.2 12.3
18.7 15.9 13.9 25.1 22.5 18.7 15.9 13.9 24.4 21.9 18.1 15.5 13.5 22.4 20.1 16.7 14.2 12.3
18.7 15.9 13.9 25.1 22.5 18.7 15.9 13.9 24.4 21.9 18.1 15.5 13.5 22.4 20.1 16.7 14.2 12.3
18.7 15.9 13.9 25.1 22.5 18.7 15.9 13.9 24.5 21.9 18.2 15.5 13.5 22.4 20.1 16.7 14.2 12.4
10.4 16.6 14.4 26.0 .23.4 10.4 16.6 14.4 25.3 22.8 18.9 16.1 14.1 23.4 21.0 17.4 14.8 12.9
20.3 17.3 15.1 27.2 24.4 20.3 17.3 15.1 26.5 23.8 10.8 10.8 14.7 24.5 22.0 18.3 15.6 13.6
14.3 12.2 10.6 13.2 17.2 14.3 12.2 10.6 18.5 16.6 13.7 11.7 10.2 10.5 14.8 12.3 10.4 9.1
17.1 14.6 12.7 22.9 20.6 17.1 14.6 12.7 22.2 19.9 10.5 14. 12.2 20.2 18.2 15.0 12.8 11.1
13.1 11.5 9.7 17.6 15.8 13.1 11.5 9.7 10.8 15.1 12.5 10.6 9.2 14.9 13.3 11.0 9.4 8.1
9.2 7.8 6.8 12.4 11.1 9.2 7.8 0.8 11.7 10.5 8.7 7.3 6.3 9.7 8.7 7.2 6.1 5.2
4.3 3.5 3.1 6.0 5.3 4.3 3.5 3.1 5.3 4.7 3.8 3.2 2.7 3.3 2.0 2.3 1.9 1.6
2.8 2.3 1.9 3.9 3.4 2.8 2.3 1.9 3.1 2.8 2.2 1.8 1.5 1.2 1.0 0.8 0.6 0.5
4.4 3.7 3.2 6.0 '5.3 4.4 3.7 3.2 5.3 4.7 3.8 3.2 2.7 1.7 1.5 1.2 0.6 0.5
S. S. CRISTOBAL CROSSING LINE OF OLD FRENCH CANAL ON WAY TO GATUN, AUGUST 3, 1914.
HOW A VESSEL IS HANDLED THROUGH THE
For a steamship owner or agent to send a vessel through
the canal is one of the simplest matters in all his business.
Practically all he has to do is to make a deposit with the Gov-
ernment to cover the vessel's canal expenses. The Govern-
ment will attend to everything else,-and return his change
as soon as the vessel has cleared from the canal.
There are several ways by which money may be advanced
to cover canal charges. The simplest and most direct and
the one usually followed is to make a deposit with an as-
sistant treasurer of the United States (there is one in every
large port of the United States). The assistant treasurer
will, on request, telegraph the Washington office of The
Panama Canal which will cable notice of the placing of the
deposit to the canal authorities on the Isthmus, who then
make all arrangements to give the vessel the quickest dis-
patch through the canal as soon as it presents itself at either
port of entry.
The method outlined above is equally easy for an owner or
agent in a foreign country. He can simply direct his bank,
which will have connections with a bank or banks in the
United States, to have a deposit placed with the assistant
treasurer, say, in New York or San Francisco. This done,
OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
the conduct of the rest of the business is in the. hands of the
Another method which may be followed in making the
deposit, but which is more complicated, is to deposit certain
high-grade bonds with the assistant auditor of the Panama
Canal in Washington as security and to make payment by
draft. Drafts to the accepted value of the bonds will then
be accepted for conversion into cash, the value of the drafts
being secured to the Government by its tenure of the bonds.
This arrangement is supposed to be especially convenient for
companies having frequent sailings through the canal.
A third method is to make payment in cash to the collector
on the Isthmus. The probabilities are that this method will
not be used often, except in cases of yachts and other small
vessels, on account of the inconvenience and risk of carrying
credit, to apply on future bills.
By whichever method the advance payment is made, it
should be amply sufficient to cover the estimated tolls as well
as any other probable expenses, such as for fuel, supplies,
cable messages, etc. Whatever balance is due the depositor
after the vessel's expenses have been paid will be refunded
him, by check on the Treasurer of the United States, directly
after the vessel has cleared from the canal. If the depositor
expressely requests it, any balance due him will be left to his
credit, to apply on future bills.
Some owners or agents who may have been unaware of the
simple and prompt method by which their business with the
canal, can be handled, have employed local agents on the
Isthmus to look after the interests of their vessels, or have
arranged with local banks to pay their bills. Such arrange-
ments are neither necessary nor desirable. The one thing
important is to provide the money to pay the ship's bills.
That is done most expeditiously through the Government's
arrangements, as outlined above, and when it has been done
the canal organization handles the ship's business with a
minimum of delay. The introduction of a third party in the
transaction tends to complicate the situation and actually to
delay the transit of the ship, by interfering with the usual
18 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
methods of handling business by the canal authorities in
When the ship enters the harbor of either of the terminal
ports it is boarded by officers of the canal who examine its
bill of health and clearance, see that its certificate of canal
measurement is properly made out, and ascertain any of the
vessels needs in the matters of fuel, supplies, extra men to
handle the lines during the passage of the locks, etc. These
matters are immediately reported to the Captain of the
Port, who gives the necessary orders to insure proper attend-
ance on the vessel's needs and directs its start through the
canal whenever it is ready.
In all stages of its transit of the canal the vessel must have
on board a Government pilot. There is no charge for pilot-
age on vessels going directly through the canal without stop-
ping to discharge cargo or passengers at the terminal ports.
The pilot is on board in an advisory capacity and is re-
quired to confer with the master of the vessel, giving him
the benefit of his knowledge and advice as to the handling of
the vessel in the various reaches, but the master, who is best
acquainted with the peculiarities of his vessel and her ways
of answering the helm, is responsible for the navigation of
the vessel, except when she is passing through the locks.
The handling of a vessel during its transit of the canal is
like the handling of a railway train on its "run." The
course is equipped with all requisite signals, facilities for
mooring, like sidings, and a system of communication be-
tween points along the line, which includes a special tele-
phone system connecting all the important points of control
As soon as the vessel starts on its transit of the canal, the
Captain of the Port at the point of entrance telephones its
starting to the other stations along the course. As the vessel
arrives and departs from each of these points, the fact is
telephoned along the line, so that there is exact knowledge at
each station all the time of the status of traffic, and complete
cooperation from the several points of control.
The transit of the canal requires about 10 hours, of which
approximately 3 hours .are spent in the locks. In the sea-
GATUN LOWER LOCKS, LOOKING NORTH FROM MIDDLE LOCKS, MAY 6, 1913.
I ~ ( _ I
OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
level channels and Gaillard (formerly Culebra ") Cut the
speed of vessels is limited to 6 knots; through Gatun Lake
they may make 10, 12, and 15 knots, according to the width
of the channel. A vessel may clear from the canal port at
which it enters and, after passing through the last of the
locks, put direct to sea without further stop.
The handling of a vessel all through the canal, except in
the locks, is essentially the same as its handling through any
charted channel where observance of signals, ranges, and
turns is necessary. The canal channel throughout is very
accurately charted, fully equipped with aids to navigation,
and governed by explicit, rules with which the pilots, of
course, are thoroughly familiar.
In the locks, the vessel is under the control of the lock-oper-
ating force. As the vessel approaches the locks, the operator
in charge at the control house indicates by an electrically op-
erated signal at the outer end of the approach wall if the
vessel shall enter the locks, and, if so, on which side; or if it
shall keep back or moor alongside the approach wall. If
everything is ready for the transit of the locks, the vessel
approaches the center approach wall, which is a pier extend-
ing about a thousand feet from the locks proper, lines are
thrown out, and connections are made with the electric tow-
ing locomotives on the approach wall.
The vessel then moves forward slowly until it is in the
entrance chamber, when lines are thrown out on the other
side and connections are made with towing locomotives on the
side wall. Six locomotives are used for the larger vessels,
three on each wall of the lock chamber. Two keep forward
of the vessel, pulling and holding her head to the center of
the chamber; two aft, holding the vessel in check; and two
slightly forward of amidships, which do most of the towing
of the vessel through the chamber. The locomotives are pow-
erful affairs, secured against slipping by the engagement of
cogs with a rack running along the center of the track, and
equipped with a slip drum and towing windlass, which allow
the prompt paying out and taking in of hawser as required.
No trouble has been experienced in maintaining absolute con-
trol over the vessels.
OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
The water within the lock chamber proper, beyond the
entrance chamber, is brought to the level of that in the ap-
proach, the gates toward the vessel are opened, the fender
chain is lowered, and the locomotives maneuver the vessel
into the chamber and bring it to rest. The gates are then
closed, the water raised or lowered, as the case may be, to the
level .of that in the next chamber, the gates at the other end
are opened, and the vessel moved forward. Three such steps
are made at Gatun, two at Miraflores, and one at Pedro
When the vessel has passed into the approach chamber at
the end of the locks, the lines from the towing locomotives
on the side wall are first cast off, then those from the loco-
motives on the approach wall, and the vessel clears under its
Towing is not ordinarily required in any part of the canal,
except in the locks, for steam or motor vessels. Tug service
for sailing ships or vessels without motive power is at the
rate of $15 per hour. If the channel in the Cut has been dis-
turbed by a slide, tugs may be used to handle vessels past the
narrow places, but in such cases there is no charge for the
service to vessels of less than 15,000 gross tonnage.
FACILITIES FOR SHIPPING.
In line with its policy of making the canal thoroughly
serviceable in a commercial sense, the Government is equip-
ping it with all requisite facilities to minimize the incidental
delays and expenses of vessels passing through it.
The facilities are now ample for the present traffic, except
for the lack of a large dry dock. The concrete is now being
placed for the permanent dry dock at Balboa, which will
accommodate the largest vessels afloat, and is to be finished
by the end of 1915.
Extensive fuel-oil handling plants, with which are con-
nected tanks belonging to individuals and companies, as
well as those erected by the Government, have been estab-
lished at both terminals of the canal. Oil can be supplied
to ships at the rate of 1,200 barrels per hour to each vessel.
The permanent coaling plants, now under construction at
both terminals, will each be able to load coal into bunkers of
vessels at the. rate of 2,000 tons per hour. The plant at the
Atlantic entrance is to have a storage capacity of a little
over 400,000 tons, and that at the Pacific entrance will have
a capacity of 200,000 tons. Both will be equipped with un-
loading and loading cranes. These plants are to be com-
pleted early in 1916. The present means of supplying coal
to vessels are from lighters at the Pacific entrance, and from
lighters, or from cars alongside the wharves, or by cantilever
crane at the coal wharf at the Atlantic entrance.
Water is supplied from the mains on the terminal wharves
and piers. The water in Gatun Lake is fresh, but is not'
safe for drinking purposes in an untreated state. The water
sold at the docks is drawn from the regular water-supply
systems and has been purified.
GATUN SPILLWAY DAM. OPENING OF SEVEN GATES, LOOKING WEST FROM EAST ABUTMENT, DECEMBER 30, 1913.
24 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
As The Panama Canal and the Panama Railroad Company
are together operating a large number of vessels of a variety
of classes, from tugs to ocean-going passenger and freight
vessels, supplies for practically any kind of vessel are kept
on hand on the Isthmus. Such supphes are for sale to all
ships using the canal, or calling at the terminal ports. The
storehouses at Cristobal and Balboa have in stock all stand-
ard lubricants, light and heavy hardware, cordage, and mis-
cellaneous ship-chandlery supplies.
Foodstuffs and the general variety of merchandise han-
dled by the commissary department of The Panama Canal
may be purchased for ships. The fact that the supply de-
partment is supplying regularly most of the food and wear-
ing apparel of approximately 50,000 people is a warrant that
its operations are on a scale which can easily include the
needs of ships now coming to the canal. Prices are generally
lower than the retail prices in the United States, or possibly
about 10 per cent higher than the wholesale prices there, and
compare favorably with prices in any port of the world.
A large stock of fresh meats, vegetables, fruits, canned
groceries, bakery products, etc., is always on hand, and ad-
vance arrangements can be made for supplies of any article
obtainable in the markets of the world.
Ice may be purchased in any reasonable quantity.
Laundry is handled quickly. No advance notice is re-
quired, and ship's laundry can be returned on the same day
it is received. A vessel entering the canal can forward its
laundry by rail to the plant at Cristobal or the one at Ancon
and receive it back by the time it is ready to clear from the
other end of the canal. Passengers' laundry can be handled
with corresponding dispatch, but it is preferred to have at
least two days for the work.
Except for the limitations imposed at present by the ab-
sence of a large dry dock, and of lathes for turning the
largest crank shafts and longest line shafts of modern ves-
sels, the canal shops can do practically any repair work which
OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
a vessel might bring. Sufficient materials, including heavy
billets and all sizes of plates and angles, are kept on hand to
meet every probable need. The foundry can make steel cast-
ings up to 5 tons in weight, and iron castings up to 10 tons,
as well as brass castings of any ordinary size.
The shops at Balboa are equipped with a 540-ton hydraulic
forging press, an open-side extension planer with capacity
to plane 132 inches wide, 96 inches high, and 24 feet long,
lathes large enough for ordinary line-shaft work, and the
usual accessories of fully equipped machine, boiler, and ship-
fitters' shops. The shops alongside the dry dock at Mount
Hope can do small machine work of moderate size, and prac-
tically any plate work likely to be required. By submitting
to the delay necessary to transport parts to Balboa, all the
facilities of the Balboa shops are also available for work at
Mount Hope. The Mount Hope Dry Dock can take ships
drawing 131 feet of water and 300 feet long; the permanent
dry dock now under construction at Balboa will take any
vessel that can pass through the canal.
The Balboa shops contain a plant for the generation of
oxygen and acetylene, and both they and the shops at Mount
Hope are equipped with tools for all kinds of cutting and
welding. Compressed air, steam, water, oil, and electric cur-
rent are available at the repair wharves in the maximum
quantity required. Locomotive and wrecking cranes are
available at the wharf side for lifting, and a derrick barge
with a lifting capacity of 40 tons may be brought into service
if necessary. Two floating derricks of 250-tons capacity
have been erected and are practically ready for service.
Contracts for doing repair work at a stated cost can not
be made by The Panama Canal, though estimates of probable
cost can be furnished from the shops. Charges are made
on the basis of actual cost of repairs, plus a percentage to
cover overhead expenses, prescribed by The Panama Canal.
HOTEL AND HOSPITAL ACCOMMODATIONS AND CABLE CONNEC-
The Hotel Washington at Colon and the Hotel Tivoli at
Ancon, adjoining Balboa, and the Hotel Aspinwall, on
26 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
Taboga Island, are owned and operated by the Government
for the accommodation of the traveling public. Reserva-
tions can be made in the same way as at privately owned
Ancon Hospital is equipped with 800 beds. It treats about
35,000 cases a year, in which approximately 7,000 surgical
operations are performed. Its staff of physicians and sur-
geons includes men of marked experience and ability and
several experts in tropical medicine. The treatment of cases
from neighboring countries and from ships is a part of its
Direct cable connections extend from the Isthmus to New
York and to the west coasts of Mexico, Central, and South
America. The radio stations at Colon and Balboa handle
METHOD OF APPLICATION FOR SUPPLIES.
Steamship captains or agents desiring the services of The
Panama Canal in the way of supplies, repairs, etc., will re-
ceive prompt response on communicating with the Captain
of the Port at Balboa or Cristobal. Ships may communi-
cate their wants by radio in advance of arrival. The canal
organization, having made ample preparations for serving
vessels, is desirous of giving prompt and satisfactory service
on a businesslike basis without unnecessary delay or red tape.
The Captain of the Port will furnish information'in re-
gard to placing orders, and should be notified of all orders
placed, so that he may be able to keep track of them in rela-
tion to clearing ship, etc.
Bills for all supplies will be submitted through the offices
of the deputy collectors at the ports for collection, or cash
may be sent with orders. Bills for supplies furnished ships
of regularly established lines will be submitted to the local
agents, if desired.
PRICES OF SUPPLIES.
The following is a partial list of the charges prevailing
at present for various services, but they are subject to change
from time to time:
OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
Coal.-At Cristobal, from lighters, trimmed in bunkers,
or from cars alongside wharf, handled by ships' gear, per
ton, $5.40; use of steam hoist and crane, per hour, $1. At
Balboa the price is $1 more per ton, either form of delivery.
Fuel oil.-Regular sales, $1.25 per barrel.
WVater.-Delivered at dock, 25 cents per 1,000 gallons;
minimum charge, $3.
General supplies, foodstuffs, etc.-Prices are usually less
than retail prices in the United States. Wholesale lists may
be obtained from the offices of the port captains.
Ice.-At Cristobal, 30 cents per 100 pounds; at Balboa, 35
cents per 100 pounds.
Laundry.-The following representative prices will give a
fair idea of charges. For passengers: Drawers or under-
shirts, 10 cents each; socks, 5 cents per pair; collars, 3 cents
each. For ships: Waiters' coats, 10 cents each; blankets, 10
cents each; trousers and jackets, 5 cents each; aprons, caps,
sheets, tablecloths, napkins, towels, 1 cent each.
CHARGES FOR SERVICES.
Barges and lighters.-W-ith towing machine, 400 tons or
over, $2.25 per hour; without towing machine, 400 tons or
over, 90 cents per hour; under 400 tons, 30 cents per hour.
The charge for barges or lighters will depend upon the
kind and class of service rendered, time in use, and charges
in connection with handling freight and cargo.
Wharfage.-All steam or motor vessels, per day or frac-
tion thereof, per foot of length, measured over all, 12 cents.
Sailing vessels, 100 feet in length or less, per foot, 5 cents;
over 100 but less than 200 feet, per foot, 10 cents; over 200
feet, per foot, 12- cents.
Dry docking at Mount Hope.-For vessel docked alone, $75
for the first day, and $25 for each subsequent day. For a
vessel docked with another vessel, $50 for the first day, and
$18 for each subsequent day.
Launches.-Larger launches, for the first hour, $7.50, and
$5 for each succeeding hour; smaller launches, $5 for the first
hour, and $2.50 for each succeeding hour.
28 OFFICIAL I-IANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
-Diver's service.-For the first four hours or fraction
thereof from time of arrival at point of diving $60, for each
subsequent hour $10.
Freight.-Rates for handling freight depend upon the
kind and class of services required. Freight is handled at
the terminal ports either by the Panama Railroad or the
agents of vessels.
.Tugs.-For:harbor work, shifting berths, work around
piers or locks, and short tows, $15 per hour. For towing
through the canal 4 cents per displacement ton, or 10 cents
per net Panama Canal ton; minimum charge for towing
through the canal $150.
k ,Pilotage.-Charges are based upon the maximum draft;
rate per foot or fraction of foot exceeding 6 inches $1. In
.case pilot is taken on outside of the Atlantic breakwaters an
extra charge of $10 is imposed. There is no charge for pilot-
age when a vessel goes direct through the canal without stop-
ping at either terminal port to take on or discharge cargo or
passengers. Through passengers will be allowed to land
without affecting the status of the vessel in this respect.
Tolls.-On merchant vessels carrying passengers or cargo
per net ton (each 100 cubic feet) of actual earning capacity
On vessels in ballast without passengers or cargo, per ton,
On naval vessels, other than transports, colliers, hospital
ships, and supply ships, per displacement ton, 50 cents.
On Army and Navy transports, colliers, hospital ships,
and supply ships, the vessel-to be measured by the same rules
as are employed in determining the net tonnage of merchant
vessels, per net ton, $1.20.
Additional charges are made for deck loads, depending
on the space occupied; per net vessel ton, $1.20.
For passengers, no specific charge is made, but passenger
space is included in the net tonnage upon which tolls are
OPENING OF THE PANAMA CANAL. S. S. ANCON IN GAILLARD CUT, LOOKING NORTH FROM CERRO LUISA, AUGUST 15, 1914.
SAVINGS IN COST.
Fundamentally, the saving to a vessel by the use of the
canal in place of a longer route is the difference between the
cost of the voyage over the longer route and the cost over
the canal route, in which latter must be included the canal
tolls. The actual cost per day at sea on any route is affected
by various factors, chief among which are the cost of fuel
and of supplies which must be taken aboard en route; these
factors, as may be judged from the description of facilities
for vessels at the canal, and the broader influences of
weather, conditions at sea, and connections with secondary
trade areas, are generally favorable to the canal in compari-
son with alternate routes. The advantage of quicker delivery
of goods is in most cases an appreciable consideration.
For a specific voyage between two ports, by way of the
canal or by an alternate route, the cost will vary in any
number of vessels according to their individual expenses of
operation. All cases can not be covered by exact formula.
The following typical instances are, however, illustrative of
With reference to the trade from the Atlantic coast of the
United States to the Far East, the voyage of the Penrith
Castle, which passed through the canal on October 22-23 en
route from Galveston to Yokohama with a cargo of 3,270
tons of raw cotton, is typical.
By using The Panama Canal, this vessel saved at least
5,280 miles of travel between these ports. The distance via
the canal, San Francisco, and the Great Circle is 9,294 miles;
via the Suez Canal and the most direct sailing, about 14,575
miles. On a speed of 10 knots this means a saving of 22
days on the outward voyage alone.
OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
The Penrith Castle is 361 feet long, 42.6 feet in the beam,
17.6 feet in mean draft, has a net registered tonnage of 2,337
by the rules of measurement of the British Board of Trade.
and is propelled by a three-cylinder, triple-expansion engine,
with 24, 40, and 67 inch cylinders and 45-inch stroke. The
crew numbers 28, officers and men. Its operating expenses
may be approximated at $230 per day on this route.
The saving of 22 days at sea amounts, accordingly, to a
saving of $5,060. The tolls collected at the canal-$4,101.60
(at $1.20 per ton on 3,418 tons, including 111 tons of deck
load)-should not be deducted from the saving, as an equiv-
alent amount would have been collected at the Suez Canal.
If the vessel had elected to go by way of the Strait of
Magellan, it would have had to travel approximately 15,071
miles, or 5,777 miles farther than by the canal route, and
the cost, on the basis followed above, would have exceeded
the.cost by the canal, including tolls, by $1,533.40. The Cape
of Good Hope route would have increased the voyage about
7,700 miles over the canal voyage and would have cost at
least $3,258.40 more than the use of the canal route.
Concerning the traffic between the Pacific coast of the
United States and Europe, the following is an approxima-
tion based on the transit of 17 vessels of foreign registry
laden with grain from San Francisco and Puget Sound to
European ports, principally in Great Britain: The distance
saved by the use of the canal in place of the Strait of
Magellan was about 5,550 miles for each vessel. For a
speed of 10 knots, the saving in time at sea was 23 days.
The average net tonnage of the 17 vessels-British Board
of Trade measurement-was 3,094; the average net tonnage
under the rules for the measurement of vessels for The
Panama Canal was 4,050 tons, and the average tolls were,
accordingly, $4,860. If the average per diem cost at sea be
rated at $0.09 per net registered ton, the average saving per
vessel by the use of the canal was the average daily cost of
operation-$278.46-multiplied by 23, less the canal tolls,
In the traffic between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the
United States, involving over 40 per cent of the movements
32 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
through the canal, an idea of the saving may be obtained
from the case of one of the American Hawaiian Co.'s liners,
the Arizonan, for instance: On the basis of a speed of 12
knots, the canal saves the Arizonan about 26.8 days at sea on
each voyage from coast to coast. The Arizonan is a rela-
tively large vessel, 470 feet long by 57.2 feet in the beam, and
has carried as much as 11,780 tons of cargo through the canal
on one of her voyages. The canal tolls levied on each pas-
sage are $7,891.20. The cost of operating the Arizonan at
sea may be taken at $450 a day. For 26 days this means
$11,700, from which the subtraction of the tolls leaves a net
saving of approximately $3,808 per voyage.
Similar instances might be cited without end. Those
given are indicative of the great element of saving which
will be introduced into some of the more important routes.
* To offset, at least in part, the cost of the maintenance and
operation of the canal and the interest on the money invested
in it, the Government charges tolls on the vessels which
make use of it.
Tolls are levied on the basis of the cargo and passenger
carrying capacity of each vessel. The determination of
capacity is embraced in a set of rules of measurement of ves-
sels for The Panama Canal, according to which the net ton-
nage of a vessel is the units of interior space of 100 cubic feet,
or 2.83 cubic meters, which may be devoted to carrying cargo
The interior cargo-carrying capacity or net canal tonnage
is the primary basis on which tolls are levied, but there is
additional charge for open space on deck occupied by cargo
A vessel may be measured for its Panama Canal certificate
by the surveyor of any port of the United States, and copies
of the rules for measurement have been sent to the Govern-
ments of all the principal maritime countries where duly
appointed foreign officials may measure vessels and issue
certificates; and the canal maintains a staff to measure ves-
sels which arrive at the canal without a certificate, and to
check the certificates issued at other ports. The canal force
can measure and certificate vessels ordinarily in from 24 to
36 hours, if the masters furnish the constructor's blue prints
and the ship's certificate of national registry, or check a pre-
viously issued certificate in an hour unless it contains excep-
34 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
Gross tonnage, according to The Panama Canal rules, in-
cludes, in general, the total capacity of the vessel or the cubi-
cal contents of all spaces below the upper deck and of all per-
manently covered or closed-in spaces on or above that deck,
excepting spaces specifically designated for exemption from
The principal deductions from the gross tonnage for the
determination of the net tonnage include, in general, spaces
which serve for the navigation of the ship, its propulsion,
spaces devoted to the use of officers and crew, for its fuel sup-
ply, boatswain's stores, feed-water tanks, and spaces framed
in around the funnels for the admission of light and air to
the engine and fire rooms. No space not included in the
gross tonnage is ever deducted in the determination of the
The canal system of designation of tonnage differs some-
what from the systems in practice in the United States and
various foreign nations and from that for the measurement
of vessels for the Suez Canal. The classifications of space
for registry are at such variance that it was decided to work
out a separate plan for the measurement of vessels for the
canal which should be fair to all, irrespective of previous
On loaded commercial vessels the toll charge is $1.20 per
net canal ton, plus $1.20 per 100 cubic feet of deck load,
provided that the sum of these charges shall not exceed an
amount equivalent to a charge of $1.25 per net ton on the
vessel, as measured for United States registry.
Vessels going through the canal without cargo or passen-
gers-that is, in ballast-will be charged 72 cents per net
canal ton, provided that if this amount is not equivalent
to the product of the vessel's net tonnage according to meas-
urement for American registry by 75 cents, the larger sum
shall be collected.
In commercial operations, steamship agents charge freight
on the basis of weight or of space occupied. On the basis
of space, they ordinarily rate 40 cubic feet as a ton. Accord-
ingly, the 100 cubic feet called a ton in canal measurement
could contain two and one-half tons of cargo, on the com-
: ;~ . .
GENERAL VIEW OF PEDRO MIGUEL LOCKS FROM LUISA HILL, JUNE 6, 1914.
36 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
mercial basis of 40 cubic feet to the ton. In the case of
ideally compact loading, the canal toll of $1.20 per ton of
canal space would be equivalent to a charge of 48 cents per
ship's ton of cargo. As a matter of experience with vessels
which have so far used the canal, with great variations in
loading, the toll charge has averaged approximately 75 cents
per ton of cargo as declared in the ship's manifests. The
heavier the loading in proportion to capacity the smaller the
cost per ton of cargo. The steamship Hlistorian, rated at
5,378 net canal tons, paid $6,453.60 in tolls to pass through
the canal on November 14 on the way from San Francisco
to London. She was laden with 12,000 tons of cargo on
which, accordingly, the cost per ton was approximately 54
The Panama Canal, however, has no direct interest in the
proportionate loading of vessels carrying cargo through the
canal, or in the nature of the cargo, other than explosives or
other commodities requiring precautions in handling or
liable to menace the safety of the canal. Its rates are en-
tirely flat, on the simple basis of cargo-carrying capacity,
and there are no complicated tariffs.
The first tolls were collected on May 18, 1914, before the
opening of the canal to ocean-going vessels, and were as-
sessed on loaded barges towed through the canal by tugs.
The actual collection of tolls (less $11,551.20 refunded) be-
tween that date and May 1, 1915, may be summarized as
Prior to Aug. 15, 1914 _--_---- ------__ $11, 610. 69
Aug. 15 to 31_---------------------- --------_ 98, 066. 19
Sept. 1 to 30 ------------------- ----- 263,220. 00
Oct. 1 to 31 ------------------------------------ -_ 340, 9S6.48
Nov. 1 to 30 ---------- ------------------ 349, 382. 15
Dec. 1 to 31 ------- ----------------------- 395, 169. 57
Jan. 1 to 31, 1915------------------------------- 376, 810. 88
Feb. 1 to 28------------------- ---------- 403, 118. 36
Mar. 1 to 31------------------------------------- 606, 316. 56
Apr. 1 to 30---------------------------------- 420. 884. 69
Total---------------------------------------- 3, 274, 565. 57
Prior to the opening of the canal it was widely assumed
that the new route would not be used by sailing vessels, and
there has been very little discussion of the relations of the
canal to sailing traffic.
To date half a dozen sailing vessels have gone through the
canal. Something of the cost of handling them through
the canal may be judged from these figures on the passage
of the schooner Zeta and the barkentine John Ena, which
went through the canal well laden and may be regarded as
typical of the traffic:
The Zeta is a wooden three-masted schooner 132 feet long,
32 feet in the beam, and 12 feet deep. She is registered at
335 net tons, Lloyds' measurement, and at 313 net tons, canal
measurement. Her expenses in transiting the canal were:
Tolls, $520.80; tug service, $150; total, $670.80. The vessel
was carrying 600 tons of lumber; her expenses in passing
through the caiial amounted to $1.118 per ton of cargo.
The John Ena is a four-masted steel barkentine, 313 feet
long, 48 feet in the beam, and 25 feet deep. The registered
net tonnage of this vessel is 2,706; the canal measurement
rates it at 2,609 net tons. Expenses for going through the
canal were: Tolls, $3,130.80; tug service, $302.15; total,
$3,432.95. On a cargo of 4,400 tons of petroleum and wax
the total expenses prorate at 78 cents per ton.
To date, under conditions of average loading, the tolls on
laden steam vessels have been equivalent to approximately
75 cents per ton of cargo carried.
From the foregoing instances it is seen that sailing vessels
can be handled through the canal economically, as far as
the actual passage of the canal is concerned. A factor of
38 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
greater importance, admitting of less certainty in its deter-
mination, is the relative time which it will take a sailing
vessel to reach the Isthmus and its ultimate destination, in
comparison with the passage over the longer alternative
routes around the Horn or the Cape of Good Hope.
On the Atlantic side, according to sailing directions, the
time of transit of an average sailing vessel between New
York and the Isthmus may be approximated at 20 days.
The time from the English Channel to the Isthmus is reck-
oned as 30 days for a yearly average; the homeward voyage
to Europe is taken at 40 days. Limon Bay is easily acces-
sible to sailing vessels at all times of the year and vessels
-may generally expect a fair wind for entering.
On the Pacific side vessels may generally expect a fair
wind offshore on. departing from the Isthmus, light from
May to November, and somewhat stronger from December to
April. Vessels entering the Gulf of Panama will almost
invariably encounter head winds, often very light, and find
difficulty in beating up to the canal. Off shore on the Pacific
side the regular trades may not be expected until several
hundred miles off shore. Sailing directions should be freely
consulted by all sailing masters, particularly in regard to
the wind and currents on the Pacific side. If due notice be
given, tugs may be obtained from the canal authorities.
The average time of a sailing vessel from Panama to San
Francisco is considered to be between 37 and 40 days; for
the return about 31 days from April to October, and 26
days from October to April.
Accordingly the time of transit of a vessel from New
York to San Francisco may be reckoned generally at 60
days, including a day in the canal. The return trip should
consume about 57 days in the winter months and 62 in the
summer season. The generally accepted average time for
sailing vessels to go from New York to San Francisco
around Cape Horn is 140 days; the return voyage requires
from 110 to 115 days. On this basis the normal time for a
round trip between the two ports by way of the canal may
be rated at 120 days; by way of the Horn about 250 days.
PEDRO MIGUEL LOCKS. DREDGING FLEET PASSING FROM EAST CHAMBER INTO GAILLARD CUT ON WAY TO CUCARACHA
SLIDE, DECEMBER 2, 1913.
40 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
The extent to which sailing vessels will use the canal will
be dependent on many conditions in the shipping world,
but it appears that under normal conditions the canal route
is favorable to them. For instance, on the voyage from New
York to San Francisco under average conditions a vessel
might be expected to save 80 days at sea. Shipowners state
that a vessel of 2,000 tons net may be operated at sea at a
cost of $75 per day. The charges for passing such a vessel
through the canal would approximate $2,700. If these
charges be subtracted from the saving of 80 days at sea, at
$75 per day, or '.'. ,\ the net saving to the operator would
In the case of such a vessel the saving of 36 days at sea
would cover its canal expenses. Between this period and
the normal expectation of saving by way of the canal, 80
days, is a leeway of 44 days; that is, if the operator used
the canal and then had his vessel arrive 44 days late, as com-
pared to the normal voyage over the route, he would still
"break even." If the vessel arrived 30 days late over the
normal time, he would be benefited to the extent of 14 days
at sea, which, at $75 per day, is equivalent to $1,050.
THE CANAL AND THE NAVY.
The opening of the canal has greatly increased the effec-
tiveness of the Navy of the United States. It has reduced
the distance between the central points of the Atlantic and
Pacific coasts from 13,000 to 5,000 miles and greatly reduced
the problem of coaling on a cruise from coast to coast. It
has made possible the concentration of a fleet at either
entrance of the canal which, with a cruising speed of 15
knots, could reach the center of the Pacific coast in 9 days
and the center of the Atlantic coast in 5 days.
Where formerly the fleets stationed opposite the middle
of each coast were, from a cruising point of view, as far
apart as opposite sides of the world, they are now as near
as if one were off New York and the other off Buenos
With regard to the monetary saving to the United States
resulting from the availability of the canal for naval use,
it is apparent that the distance and time between the coasts
have been reduced to less than two-fifths of the former fig-
ures. The cost of coast-to-coast movements is reduced
accordingly, for though vessels of the Navy pay tolls, such
payment is in effect a transfer of money from one branch
of the Government to another.
The strategic importance of the canal is inestinmable from
a monetary standpoint.
FEATURES OF CONSTRUCTION.
The Isthmus of Panama connects the two continents
through an elbow or segment of an arc running almost east
and west. The canal runs more nearly north and south than
east and west, and the Pacific end of it is east of the Atlantic
end. The starting point in Limon Bay lies at latitude 90 23'
north by longitude 790 56' west, and the other end of the
canal, in the Bay of Panama, lies at 8 54' north by 79 32'
The distance by air from shore to shore of this narrow part
of the Isthmus is about 30 miles. The canal is 43.84 nautical
miles in length from deep water to deep water. It passes
through a varied and picturesque country, at places rugged,
and where Gaillard Cut goes through the Continental Di-
vide the lowest point was formerly some 700 feet above sea
level. The route selected has, in general, followed the valley
of the Mindi and Chagres Rivers on the Atlantic slope of the
divide, and the valley of the Rio Grande on the Pacific slope.
Sea-level channels were dredged inward from either end of
the canal as far as practicable-that is, from deep water in
the Pacific northward to Miraflores, and from deep water
in the Atlantic southward to Gatun-and two artificial lakes
were formed by damming the waters of the rivers at higher
levels, one, the Miraflores Lake, extending between Miraflores
and Pedro Miguel, with surface 54i feet above sea level, and
the other, Gatun Lake, extending from Pedro Miguel to
Gatun, with surface 85 feet above sea level. Gaillard Cut,
which is approximately 8 miles long, forms the southern arm
1 The Culebra Cut was renamed Gaillard Cut" by Executive order of
the President dated April 27, 1915.
PEDRO MIGUEL LOCKS. LOCKAGE OF 85-FOOT PILES RAFTED FROM BALBOA TO EAST BREAKWATER, ATLANTIC ENTRANCE,
LOOKING SOUTH FROM CONTROL HOUSE, APRIL 8, 1914.
44 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
of the Gatun Lake. The locks at Miraflores, Pedro Miguel,
and Gatun are used as elevators for raising and lowering
vessels between the levels mentioned.
From the initial station in Limon Bay, on the-Atlantic side,
the canal runs almost due south 7 miles in a sea-level section
reaching to the valley of the Chagres at Gatun. Here is the
great Gatun Dam, nearly a mile and -a half long, closing a
gap through the western end of the Quebrancha Range. The
dam is an artificial ridge formed by pumping an impervious
core of dredged clay and sand between parallel ridges or
'- toes" of rock and earth. Its construction, across swampy
bottoms, was considered the most difficult feature of the
canal. The top was smoothed over with earth, and the part
of the slope on the lake side, lying between levels 10 feet
above and 10 feet below the normal water surface, has
been riprapped with hard rock to protect against wave ero-
As completed, Gatun Dam is about half a mile wide at the
base and 100 feet wide at the top, which is 103.5 feet above
sea level. It contains 10,728,965 cubic yards of wet fill and
12,229,104 cubic yards of dry fill, a total 22,958,069 cubic
yards, which is more than one-sixth of the total excavation
from Gaillard Cut to date.
Near the center of the dam is a concrete spillway, for dis-
charging the surplus waters of the lake into the lower chan-
nel of the Chagres. The discharge channel is 285 feet wide
and 1,200 feet long; and the spillway dam across its upper
end is 808 feet long, being in the form of an arc of a circle.
The top of this dam is 69 feet above sea level, and is sur-
mounted by regulating gates 20 feet high, the tops of which
are accordingly at elevation 89 feet, or 2 feet above the pro-
posed maximum elevation of the lake. The 14 regulating
gates are installed between vertical concrete piers and are
raised and lowered by means of chains running over sheaves
at the top of the piers and down through the piers to the
operating machinery in the body of the dam. The operating
machinery is accessible by means of a tunnel through the cen-
ter of the spillway dam, and may be operated by remote
control from a switchboard in the hydroelectric station,
OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
which is situated on the east side of the spillway discharge
channel. When all the gates are open the discharge of water
is greater than any known rate of run-off from the Chagres
watershed. Dropping down the 60-foot slope of the ogee and
striking against the baffle piers at the bottom, the water
makes a turbulent fall which is one of the beautiful sights
of the Isthmus.
The hydroelectric station uses water from Gatun Lake for
driving three turbo-generators of 2,000-kilowatt capacity
each, which supply electricity for the operation of the lock
and spillway machinery, the terminal shops and adjacent
facilities, and for the lighting of the locks and the canal
villages and fortifications. Transmission over the Zone is
effected through four substations and a connecting high volt-
age transmission line which follows the main line of the
Gatun Lake, impounded by Gatun Dam, has an area of
164 square miles when its surface is at the normal elevation
of 85 feet above sea level, and is the largest artificially formed
lake in the world. The area of the watershed tributary to
the lake is 1,320 square miles. During the rainy season,
from April to the latter part of December, the run-off from
this basin exceeds considerably the consumption, of water,
and the surplus is discharged through the spillway of Gatun
Dam. Toward the end of the rainy season the surface of the
lake is raised to about 87 feet above sea level, in order to
afford a surplus or reserve supply to keep the channel full to
operating depth during the dry season, in part of which the
consumption and evaporation are in excess of the supply.
It is calculated that when this level has been attained at the
beginning of the dry season the reserve is sufficient to assure
a surface elevation of at least 79 feet at the end of the dry
season in spite of the consumption at the hydroelectric sta-
tion, and allowing 41 passages of vessels through the locks
each day with the use of the full length of the chambers, or
58 lockages a day when the shorter sections of the chambers
are used and cross filling is employed, which would usually
be the case. This is a greater number of lockages than can be
made in one day.
46 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
The creation of the lake made it possible to have a channel
45 feet deep with its bottom at 40 feet above sea level. By
following the valley of the Chagres as far as Gamboa, 24
miles of channel were thus completed with relatively little
excavation. At the same time the lake, by backing water
far up the valleys of the Chagres and its tributaries, deadens
the currents of the rivers before they reach the canal channel
and decreases silting to a minimum.
At Gamboa the Chagres Valley turns sharply to the east
and the line of the canal leaves it for the heavy cut through
the Continental Divide. Gaillard Cut, forming the passage-
way between the opposite slopes of the divide, is 7.97 miles
long, 300 feet wide at the bottom, and from 45 to 65 feet in
depth. The great depth of the Cut is responsible for the
magnitude of the slides, which are breaks in the banks, due
to the pressure of the material. The elementary phenomena
of slides are encountered in almost any kind of cutting or
trenching through earth; the great depth of the Gaillard
Cut has caused similar breaks even in ordinarily firm rock.
The slides are responsible for 35,158,225 cubic yards of addi-
tional excavation to February 1, 1915. To that date the
total excavation from the Cut has been 117,077,044 cubic
yards. The Cut is an arm of Gatun Lake and its bottom
is accordingly 40 feet above sea level.
At the south end of the Cut, on the Pacific slope of the
divide, the waters are held back by Pedro Miguel Dam and
Lock. The dam is of earth, protected by rock riprap at the
water levels, and is 1,400 feet long, extending from a high
hill on the west to the lock, which is set at the base of a high
hill on the east.
Below Pedro Miguel Lock and Dam is a small lake, Mira-
flores Lake, through which the channel passes to Miraflores
Locks, which effect the transit between Miraflores Lake and
the Pacific entrance channel. The surface is normally 55
feet above sea level. Its area is 1.88 square miles, and it may
always be kept at full depth by supplying water, if needed,
from Gatun Lake, as to fill it completely from Gatun Lake
would lower the surface of the latter less than 6 inches. The
length of the canal channel through it is 1.4 miles. The lake
GAILLARD CUT. DEEPEST EXCAVATED PORTION OF PANAMA CANAL, SHOWING GOLD HILL ON RIGHT AND CONTRACTORS
HILL ON LEFT, JUNE, 1913.
48 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
is impounded by an earth dam 2,700 feet long, connecting
with Miraflores Locks from the west, and by a concrete spill-
way dam to the east of the locks, 500 feet long, on which are
mounted eight regulating gates similar to those on the Gatun
The transits between the several levels of the canal-be-
tween the Atlantic and Gatun Lake, between Gatun Lake
(Gaillard Cut) and Miraflores Lake, and between Mira-
flores Lake and the Pacific-are effected by means of massive
locks of concrete and gates of steel.
Three sets of locks were built-one set in three successive
levels at Gatun, a set with one lift at Pedro Miguel, and a
set with two lifts at Miraflores. The differences in levels
overcome at the three places are, respectively, 85, 301, and
542 feet, the latter varying according to the tide in the
Pacific, the figure given being for mean tide.
Each lock consists of two parallel chambers, which effect
a double-tracking of the channel and allow vessels going in
opposite directions to use the same flight of locks simul-
taneously. All of the chambers have the same length, 1,000
feet, and width, 110 feet; the depth of water in the locks
varies from approximately 81 feet when a boat is being
locked down and 45 feet when a boat is being locked up, and
there is always a minimum depth over the gate sill of 45 feet.
At the upper and lower ends of each set of locks the
center wall was extended approximately 1,250 feet to form
a long pier, against which entering vessels can bring up
before entering the chambers of the locks proper; and the
side walls were flared out at an angle of 60 to form a
funnel-shaped entrance. Both the center-approach walls and
the flare walls are fitted with strips of timbers resting on
helical springs to form buffers for the vessels, and the outer
end of the center wall is fitted with a resilient fender of
The channels of the lock are blocked by massive steel
gates which cut off the flow of water and divide the locks
into chambers. The flow of water into and from the cham-
bers is effected through culverts running longitudinally
through the bottoms of the side and center walls and feeding
MIRAFLORES LOWER LOCKS. LOWER MAIN GATES, JULY 5, 1913.
50 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
into the chambers through lateral culverts running under
the floors of the chambers and emptying upward. The cul-
verts are controlled by valves.
In all 92 leaves, forming 46 gates of two leaves each, are
used in the three sets of locks. Each leaf is 65 feet long, so
that when two are swung together to form a closed gate
thrVy meet in the center of the 110-foot width at an obtuse
angle. The leaves are so set that this junction always points
upstream against the downward pressure of the water;
this pressure accordingly forces them firmly together and
affords an element of safety, since a gate can not be opened
until the water on both sides has been equalized. The leaves
range from 47 to 82 feet in height, according to location,
and they weigh from 390 to 730 tons each. The 82-foot gates
occur only at the lower end of Miraflores Locks, where they
are necessary on account of tidal conditions.
The leaves are hinged to anchorages in the walls and are
swung back and forth like ordinary gates. They are moved
by machines driven by electric motors. In fact, every piece
of mechanism in the locks is actuated by electricity, and this
has made possible a central control by which an operator
at a central switchboard can cause every movement of the
lock equipment except the running of the towing loco-
motives, which are under the control of individual opera-
tors riding on them, and the handling of the emergency
During the first six months of canal operation, from
August 15, 1914, to February 15, 1915, it was seen that at
least 95 out of every 100 ships using the canal were traveling
over four great trade routes.
These were the routes of coastwise trade between the
Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States; the route
between the Pacific coast of North America and Europe; a
route between the west coast of South America and the
Atlantic coast of the United States and Europe (vessels fre-
quently proceeding along one of these coasts and across to the
other) ; and a route between the Atlantic coast of the United
States and the Far East, including Australia and New Zea-
During the first.six months 496 ocean-going vessels passed
through the canal. The way they were going and the cargo
carried by them may be summarized in this manner:
Route. of Cargo
United States coastwise, eastbound.................................. 97 499439
United States coastwise. westbo d......... ................. 109 493,272
United States Pacific coast to Europe...........................- ... 66 444.855
Europe to United States Pacific coast............................ 16 59, 516
South America to United States and Europe .................... 69 378,386
United States and Europe to South America.................... 31 128,922
United States Atlantic coast to Far East...................... 48 287,782
Far East to United States Atlantic coast........................... 2 14,500
Miscellaneous routings................... .......... .. 13 60,572
Vessels without cargo............................................ .. .. 45 .........
Total.... .................... ............. ......... 496 2,367,244
The heaviest traffic, from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic
coast of the United States, has consisted principally of
52 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
canned fruit and fish, lumber, wine, pineapples, sugar, ores,
and other items of the general produce of the west coast and
adjacent inland areas. The return leg of this trade, from the
Atlantic to the Pacific coast of the United States, has con-
sisted principally of coal, structural iron, machinery, and,
above all, a great variety of merchandise. Some idea of it
may be gained from the following note, which appeared in
the Canal Record of March 24, 1915:
As an example of the great variety of goods carried in the west-
bound United States coastwise trade, it is interesting to note some of
the items in the cargo of 4,500 tons carried by the Peter H. Crowell
through the canal March 10 on the way from New York to Los Angeles
and San Francisco. Among the items listed by the master on the
partial cargo declaration form supplied by The Panama Canal were:
Battery cells, caustic soda, olives, chemicals, earthenware, glassware,
lard, liquors, structural steel, machinery, refined petroleum, vegetable
oils, paint, paper and paperware, pianos, rubber goods, salt, soap,
stamped ware, textiles, tobacco, wooden ware, marble, starch, and
thread; and the declaration was finished with "Balance, 1,189 tons,
small lots of various articles."
From the west coast of the United States and Canada to
Europe, over half the traffic was in grain, and the balance was
in the same sort of general produce which constitutes the
bulk of the eastbound American coastwise trade. Forty-four
vessels carried western grain to Europe during the first six
months of canal operation. They transported 155,146 tons
of wheat and 134,145 tons of barley. Expressed in bushels
the quantities were 5,752,402 bushels of wheat and 6,170,670
bushels of barley, an aggregate of over 11,923,000 bushels of
The trade from Europe direct to the west coast has been
about one-seventh that from the west coast to Europe. The
cargo has been mostly coal and those sorts of general mer-
chandise which make up the bulk of the trade from the
Atlantic coast of the United States to the Pacific coast.
Numbers of vessels have gone through the canal empty or
"in ballast" from the Atlantic to load with cargo on the
Pacific coast and return. This was especially noticeable at
one time in the traffic in grain.
MIRAFLORES LOCKS. S. S. ADVANCE GOING SOUTH ON TRIP THROUGH CANAL. SPILLWAY IN FOREGROUND, LOOKING
WEST, AUGUST 9, 1914.
54 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
The traffic from the west coast of South America to the
Atlantic coast of the United States has had as its largest
single item nitrates. Of this item, 204,441 tons were shipped
through the canal during the first six months of operation,
the greater part going to the United States. Iron ore has
been another important item, amounting in the period to
41,300 tons. Other items distinguished by their size were
fuel oil and benzene, amounting to 16,799 tons, and sugar,
about 18,000 tons, of which 13,360 tons came through in two
ships. In addition to these, there was an export of about
100,000 tons of general cargo, a great variety of native
produce, in which ores, wool, hardwoods, and grain are note-
The traffic to South America through the canal during the
first six months was less than one-half of the exportations
frcm the west coast which passed through the canal. The 31
laden vessels which made the transit on their way to the west
coast carried 128,922 tons of cargo. This was mainly ma-
chinery, structural material, clothing, and a great variety of
Shipments from the Atlantic coast of the United States
to the Far East included 87,857 tons of refined petroleum and
other petroleum products, 38,239 tons of raw cotton, and
162,686 tons of a great variety of manufactured goods, of
which machinery, structural steel, railroad material, and
textiles have been considerable items. About half of these
vessels cleared for Australia and New Zealand, the rest for
Japan, China, and Vladivostok. The trade to Vladivostok
has been unexpectedly heavy.
During the first six months only two vessels returned
through the canal directly from the Far East. Most of the
vessels which go out over this route load in the Far East for
ports in Europe or return first to the Pacific coast of North
America, discharging cargo there and reloading. The cargo
coming through the canal from the Far East has included
Chinese groceries, matting, antimony, vegetable oils, curios,
rattan, bamboo, silk, tallow, tea, wool, etc.
The routes just described were used by all but 13 of the
vessels passing through the canal during its first half year.
OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
The 13 miscellaneous vessels not to be classified with the prin-
cipal routes included 4 vessels of a whaling fleet, on the way
from Magdalena Bay to Norway; several stray vessels in the
Central American coasting trade, and several vessels carry-
ing coal to undeclared destinations.
The half dozen leading commodities shipped through the
canal during the first half year were, in order of their ton-
nage, grain, nitrates, coal, refined petroleum products, lum-
ber, and cotton. These six commodities together amounted
to approximately one-third of all goods shipped through the
Grain shipments amounted to ,?.:'.1'4 tons, of which all
but 13,733 tons were shipped from the west coast of the
United States and Canada. Of the other 13,733 tons, 6,200
tons were barley shipped from Valparaiso to Great Britain
and 7,533 tons were wheat shipped from St. Johns, New
Brunswick, to New Zealand.
The grain shipments from the west coast of North Amer-
ica consisted of 155,246 tons of wheat (..7441,000 bushels)
and 134,145 tons of barley (6,170,000 bushels), a total of
approximately 11,914,000 bushels.
Nitrates shipped from the west coast of South America
to various ports in the United States and Europe amounted
to 204,441 tons.
Coal, all moving to the Pacific, amounted to 151,745 tons.
Of this quantity, 83,081 tons were shipped from the Atlantic
seaboard of the United States and ,.;-L: tons from the
Refined petroleum and other products amounted to 102,456
tons, of which 87,857 tons were shipped from the Atlantic
seaboard of the United States to Cl(iiii.i, .T:pl:m. and Korea,
and 14,599 tons were shipped from Talara, Peru, to Great
Shipments of lumber amounted to 56,078 tons. All but
600 tons (shipped from Gulfport to Panama City) were
from the west coast of North America. Of the 55,478 tons
shipped from the west coast all were shipped from ports
of the United States except 6,891 tons from Nanaimo, British
56 OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF PANAMA CANAL.
Raw cotton shipments amounted to 38,239 tons, en route
from the Atlantic seaboard of the United States to the Far
East. Over 70 per cent of the cotton passing through the
canal was consigned to Japan.
The total cargo handled through the canal in its first half
year was 2,367,244 tons. In the month and a half after
February 15 nearly 1,000,000 tons more of cargo went
through the canal, and the total up to April 1 was 3,246,019
tons. Its proportionate distribution over the principal routes
is about the same, as shown in the following tabulation:
Vessels. Tonnage. tot.e.
United States coastwise, eastbound.................... 137 650,921
United States coastwise, westbound ................... 132 616, 872
1, 267, 793
North Pacific coast to Europe......-.................... 3 623,988
Europe to North Pacific coast ........................ 21 68, 043
South and Central America to United States and Europe. 103 593, 812
United States and Europe to South and Central America. 53 193, 330
Atlantic coast to Far East............................ 62 373,037
Far East to Atlantic coast ............................. 6 43, ;00
Miscellaneous routine s............... ................. 16 ............ 86, 856
Vessels without cargo.................................... 56 .......... ............
Grand total........................ ........... 679 ............ 3.246,0-9
Up to April 1, 1915, the canal had been in operation seven
and a half months. Through that period the movement of
cargo averaged 432,802 tons a month, which is at the rate of
over 5,000,000 tons a year.
An expression of this quantity in terms of railway traffic
is illuminating. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1914,
the Panama Railroad handled 643,178 tons of through
freight between the seaboards of the Isthmus. During that
year the railroad was supposed to be handling more freight
per mile of track than any other railroad in the world. It
will be noted that the through traffic of the Panama Railroad
that year was within 9,000 tons of the amount carried
through the canal during the month of March, 1915 (which
was 635,057 tons) ; in other words, that the canal has handled
in a month almost as much as the railroad did during a year.
OPENING OF THE PANAMA CANAL. S. S. ANCON IN SEA-LEVEL SECTION OF CANAL SOUTH OF MIRAFLORES LOCKS,
AUGUST 15, 1914.
58 OFFICIAi r ANDjIOOK OF ( PANAMA CANAL.
The train. of tle Panama Railroad engaged in hauling
through freight were nmde up of from 18 to 20 loaded cars,
carrying in the aggregate about :50 tons. To handle 5,000,-
000 tons of cargo across the Isthmus in a year by rail would
require the operation of 3!) trains a day. It would mean
dispatching a train each way e \er hour and a quarter, and
trains passing a givenl point about every 40 minutes through
every hour of the year. The 11.285 trains necessary for
handling tills trallic would have. at S00 feet each, an aggre-
gate length of over 2.112 miles. greater than the distance
from New York to ('olon. In a single train the cars would
reach from New York to (Chicago and back, or from New
York to Chicago and then down to New Orleans, and leave
several hundred miles of train to spare.
DurI)ing the month of March. 1915. the laden vessels going
through the canal Ihad an average of 5.040 tons of cargo.
Thus the vessels containiied on an average. over 14 trainloads
of goods each.
Thie 1ocollmoti\es and trains of the Panalma Railroad are
:about thle :averae in freight work. A comparison in the
maximumi terms of railway trallic is atrorded L v the trial
trip made last year by what was called the world's largest
locomotive, the Matt II. Sha," of the Erie Railroad. This
was termed three engines in (ine," and on its trial trip han-
dled a train of .5 cars of coal. said to have been the heaviest
train ever hauled I'rom IPaltimore to Philadelphia by one
locomotive. This train carried 4.012 tons. which is less than
the average load on each ship going through the canal.
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