Panoramic View of the Canal of Panama


French mathematician and surveyor Charles Muret made one of the first representations of a projected canal across the isthmus of Panama in about 1881, at the beginning of the French venture to build the canal, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Muret’s plaster cast of the topography of Panama was shown at the 1885 World Exhibition in Antwerp and was awarded a gold medal. Shown here is an engraving of the Muret plan by L. Wuhrer (Louis Charles Wuhrer, flourished 1874−1906). The image shows the ships entering the canal area from Colón (previously called Aspinwall by Americans, after a Panama Railroad promoter) on the Atlantic Coast and looks southwest to Panama City on the Pacific Coast. It also shows the towns of Gatún, Chagres, Gorgona, and Cruces and depicts, but does not label, mountains and rivers. The legend at lower left identifies the basins of the canal, a dam to level the water of the upper Chagres Basin, the lower part of the Chagres River separated from the upper Chagres by the slopes of the canal, and side canals formed by the slopes of the canal. The legend at lower right gives statistics of the proposed breadth and depth of the canal.

Last updated: March 24, 2015