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Panama Canal construction. Fox River during construction of the Panama Canal. The first attempt to build a canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was made by the French at sea level from 1882 to 1889. This attempt failed due to poor planning, and the effects of malaria and yellow fever. The various sites fell into ruins. The excavation machines were sold to the US in 1904, and construction resumed on a new route, including locks, a dam and an artificial lake. The Panama Canal opened in 1914, with the construction history having broken many engineering records.
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