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Panama Canal construction. Pedro Miguel on 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 1881 to 1889. This attempt, which later included locks, failed and fell into ruins due to poor planning, and the effects of malaria and yellow fever. 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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