Opening of the Panama Canal 

U.S. #856 pictures President Theodore Roosevelt, who was one of the major proponent’s of creating the canal, as well as George Washington Goethals, the project’s chief engineer.

After a decade of construction, the Panama Canal opened to traffic on August 15, 1914.

For centuries, explorers, kings, and capitalists sought a way to cut their shipping times by cutting through the isthmus of Panama. In 1903, the United States helped Panama declare its independence from Colombia. President Theodore Roosevelt saw the creation of a canal across Panama as vital to America’s role as a global power. The following year began construction on the Eighth Wonder of the World – the Panama Canal. Roosevelt was so vested in the project that he visited the work site – making him the first sitting president to leave the continental U.S. during his term.

U.S. #3183f

The construction was an arduous undertaking, costing the U.S. $375 million and 5,600 lives. Over the course of the 10-year project, over 75,000 people from the U.S., Barbados, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and other nearby islands braved the harsh conditions to help make the canal a reality.

A grand celebration was to be held on August 15, 1914, to celebrate the official opening of the Panama Canal. A fleet of international warships was to assemble off Hampton Roads, Virginia. From there, they would travel through the Panama Canal to San Francisco for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

U.S. #CZ123 pictures the “Gaillard Cut” – an artificial valley dug through the continental divide.

However, World War I intervened. The grand opening was a modest affair. There were no international dignitaries in attendance, although Colonel Goethals (pictured on U.S. #856) watched from a railcar as the cement-carrying American steamship SS Ancon traveled the canal.

Click the images to add this history to your collection.

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  1. Thanks for the information, Don and the Mystic team. Always look forward to reading each days History lesson and seeing the associated stamp material.

  2. Look forward to it each day! Am assembling an album and will order the stamps on an off-rainy day, rather than one at a time, probably at the end of each month. 🙂

  3. I like the idea about the History of the Stamp, You see the Stamp, but you don’t know nothing about it’ Great Program.

    Thanks Grant

  4. Enjoyed this piece-I began collecting Canal Zone stamps while stationed in Panama while in the US Navy -the canal is an amazing engineering event

    1. Hi Judy,

      Yes we do. Just click on the images in the article. The images are links to the page where you can learn even more about the stamps and buy them, too.

  5. Too bad that this technique cannot be implemented in the History/Social Studies public school systems. I do believe that this is a better tool than listening to a teacher ramble on, and on, and on.

  6. I am really enjoying your “This Day in History” series as I enjoy reading history.Someone is doing a lot of work putting together this series. Perhaps this series could eventually be put into book form.

  7. These “This Day in History” articles should be required reading/teaching in the 5th or 6th grade. Kids should be old enough in that age group to appreciate history. I’ve read these articles since you started a couple of weeks back and although I knew pretty much everything you mentioned in the articles, some aspects, like how much it cost in money and lives to build the canal are things that I had forgotten. My daughter in law teaches the 3rd grade and I will pass this on to her. And maybe, just maybe, some of these kids may get interested in stamp collecting as well.
    Keep this going. Thanks

  8. Also this is the 80th annerversary of the airplane crash in Borrow,Alaska that killed Will Rogers and Wiley Post.

  9. This Day in History… Great idea! My grandfather was attached to an outfit in the Dominican Republic until 1923. Their goal was to protect the Canal from being attacked during the Great War. After that war, the protectors were disbanded and returned home.

  10. Great stories over a cup of coffee in the morning. Keep them coming! It would be nice for you to publish a story on how Mystic Stamp works. Where do you get your stamps? How are they all categorized and actually shipped to customers? How do you take all the pictures of stamps? A video of your facility would be great. Just some ideas for people who can not travel to Camden.
    Thanks for your Day In History and for the perfect order history on my account.

  11. I traveled to Panama on the Cristobal, the only remaining ship which was a ship which carried supplies and Canal Zone employees to Panama. I traveled as the ships doctor and my wife, Gerry was able to go along with me. It was like a cruise and we enjoyed the voyage very much. We took the train from Cristobal to Panama City. My good friend, Dr Manuel Roy who was a native of Panama met us at the train and showed us a marvelous time while we wre there for two days. We were able to see much of the canal while on the train and also got to see the docks and the “mules” which maneuver the ships thru the locks.

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