Each Friday as an alternative way of posting about a historical event that occurred on this day in history, I will weave the event into a fictional story while still providing all the necessary facts.
“What will it be like papa?” asked Michael.
“What will what be like?” asked his father.
“Going through the canal?”
“I suspect it will be wonderful and we are about to find out.”
Thomas O’Reilly, his wife Mary and their eight year-old son, Michael were on a grand voyage to their new life in San Francisco, California. After many years in New York, they aren’t traveling by train across the United States. They are on the inaugural voyage through the Panama Canal. It’s August 15, 1914 and if it wasn’t for the war in Europe, the passage through the canal would have been a grand spectacle.
“I’m scared papa.”
“What makes you afraid?” asked his mama as she joined her family on the deck.
“How will the ship fit through?”
“This ship, the U.S. vessel Ancon, has a mission to bring its cargo and passengers through safely. This may be the passage on the opening of the canal; however another ship went through while the canal was being built. They know if will fit. I read all about it in the NY Times,” answered Mary.
“Last night the Captain shared a cigar with a few of us men and told us all kinds of information about the canal. He said construction began in 1909 on one of the largest construction projects of all time. U.S. engineers moved nearly 240 million cubic yards of earth and spent close to $400 million in constructing the 40-mile-long canal (or 51 miles long, if the deepened seabed on both ends of the canal is taken into account).”
Michael watched in wonder as the Ancon began to enter the canal.