Corte Culebra Construction
Stories from the United States' relationship with the Panama Canal, in celebration of its centenary
Corte Culebra or the ‘Snake cut’ was perhaps the most complex section to complete in the whole Panama Canal. At the same time, it was also the most important component of the effort. Since it connected Gatun Lake with the Pacific Coast, this section could be considered the key connector of both oceans.
Its construction was a challenge for the workers. Because the canal works with locks, the excavation needed to focus on making a wider cut, instead of a deep one. During the construction, 27 million kilos of dynamite were used, and 76 million cubic meters of material were removed. When the trench was completed, it diminished the waterway’s elevation from 59 meters to only 12 meters above sea level, and measured 540 meters wide on the upper side of the valley.