Take a look at the Panama Canal’s historic transformation

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Part of the newly constructed Panama Canal expansion project runs to the left of the Miraflores locks along the Panama Canal on April 7, 2016 in Panama City, Panama.
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Nearly $5 billion over-budget and two years behind schedule, the newly renovated Panama Canal reopened for use this week. Panamanian officials hope that the massive 102 year-old structure would double the amount of cargo traveling to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

However, if you thought the recent project may have been wrought with issues, imagine what the original engineers were faced with over a century ago. Initially started by the French, after facing hundreds of deaths from the workers due to yellow fever and other mishaps, the US took over the ambitious project before handing it over to the Panamanians.

Here’s several images that show the transformation of the canal throughout the years:


Construction of the canal begins.

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Public Domain

President Theodore Roosevelt at the controls of an excavating machine digging the Panama Canal in 1906.

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Public Domain

The Panama Canal locks under construction in 1910. Each of these was 78 feet high and 36 feet wide.

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Public Domain

The first boat to cross the Panama Canal was the SS Ancon in 1914, which carried a cargo of cement.

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Public Domain

USS Missouri (BB-63) in the Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal, while en route from the Pacific to New York City in 1945. The beam of battleships of this era was determined by Panama Canal lock dimensions.

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Public Domain

A view of the expansion construction of the Panama Canal.

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Keith Yahl/Flickr

The renovated steel rolling gate, part of the last set of locks on the Pacific side.

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Rafael Ibarra/Reuters

Part of the newly constructed Panama Canal expansion project runs to the left of the Miraflores locks along the Panama Canal.

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The first rolling gate for the new locks on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal is transported on a barge with the help of two tugboats.

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REUTERS/Rafael Ibarra

A cargo ship navigates through the locks prior to the grand opening.

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

Another cargo ship navigates through the new locks on a test of the newly expanded Panama Canal.

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Moises Castillo/AP

A woman takes a selfie as a cargo ship crosses the new Agua Clara locks, part of the Panama Canal expansion project.

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Moises Castillo/AP