In 1871, the USS Nipsic went to Limon Bay to scout out an appropriate location for the north end of the then-soon-to-be-constructed Panama Canal.


The USS Nipsic in Limon Bay in 1871 as part of the Darien Expedition. Image credit: John Moran

The Darien Expedition was led by Thomas Oliver Selfridge for the U.S. Navy. Their objective was to scout out a good place for the northern end of the Panama Canal. The original photographer in 1870 was Timothy O'Sullivan. John Moran accompanied the expedition's return to the Isthmus of Darien in 1871.

The same islands at low tide. Image credit: John Moran

Construction of the canal was rife with complication. The French started construction of the 77.1-kilometre Panama Canal started in 1881, snaking through the isthmus to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Construction temporarily stopped in 1889, resumed under new management in 1894. Americans took control of the project in 1904, and was finally completed in 1914. At least, somewhat completed: the canal was modified in the intervening years.


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