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The Gates, Pedro Miguel Lock, lithograph by Joseph Pennell, 1912

The Pedro Miguel lock was one of three constructed for the Panama Canal so that ships could navigate the change in levels between the oceans. Senator Mark Hanna of Ohio, who favored Panama, persuasively argued that a Nicaraguan canal would be longer, with more locks, and that engineers preferred a Panama route.

Joseph and Elizabeth Robins Pennell Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

The Gates, Pedro Miguel Lock, lithograph by Joseph Pennell, 1912

The Panama Canal

By the 1880s Congress considered a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans essential for commerce and defense, but disagreements about its location became a “Battle of the Routes.” Senator John Tyler Morgan of Alabama, head of the Committee on Inter-Oceanic Canals, wanted it in Nicaragua, near southern U.S. ports. Senator Mark Hanna of Ohio wanted to complete a canal in Panama begun by a French company. In 1904, after the U.S. militarily supported Panama’s independence from Colombia, the Senate approved a canal treaty with Panama.