Photo of the Week
March 20, 2011 

Well the approval came from ACP to post a couple of the photos I took in January when doing a site visit of the new Third Locks excavation at Miraflores. This was a fantastic experience seeing the actual diggings first hand and see how the modern day methods of digging are done.  Above is a zoom in on one of the mammoth shovels being used to excavate rock and dirt.  The shovel is a Terex RH120E which can scoop up 17 cubic meters (22.2 cubic yards) in one scoop. The original canal digger, the 95 ton Bucyrus Steam Shovel only had a 5 cubic yard bucket. The photo doesn't do the shovel justice when actually realizing how large this equipment is. My wife and I stood next to one of the dump trucks that you see here in the photo and the top of my head was just above the center hub of the wheel and I being almost 6' tall. They had a steady stream of these dump trucks getting filled by this shovel.  It was breath taking to see such power this shovel had.  We toured from this site which is where the 1940' Third Locks excavation took place and along the other digging up the cut to Contractor's Hill.  I wish I could show more photos, but was lucky to get permission to use this one.  

The next photo is the same photo, but not zoomed in so you can see the overview of the digging.  The zoomed out photo below shows how they have cut out what will be one of the chambers on the new locks.  This excavation is all new and not what was excavated in the 1940's.  The 1940's excavation is on the other side of the wall you see here.  The old excavation will be used as part of the water recovery basins.  The had to excavate this new area as it is a straight axis towards the area above Pedro Miguel Locks where the ships will leave the cut and enter the new canal and locks system.  They diverted the Cocoli River which used to empty into Mirafores Lake  but now empties into the Pacific mouth of the Canal.  Many hills have been leveled from Cocoli up past the Pedro Miguel locks to make way for the new channel.  Another one of the big jobs is to build massive coffer dams separating the original channel from the new.  

We  would like to thank my friend Larry Belken, Pacific Locks Construction Manager who gave us this tour on Saturday, his day off.  Larry gave us the VIP tour to say the least which lasted for three hours.  Three hours of heaven for me.

ADDED BONUS: See two more photos below of the previous monster shovels of their time that were used in the 1940 Third Lock construction and the original shove that built the Panama Canal.  Both by the way were Bucyrus shovels.



1940s Third Locks excavation on top of current day excavations looking towards Balboa.  From the photo I have  and seen, they used these type shovels, a drag line shovel (seen in the distance) and earth movers.  Photo from the John W. Sibert collection. 

Colorized print of the famous 95 ton Bucyrus Steam Shovel with a 5 cubic yard bucket.

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