Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal

Old photo, white border. Circa 1913 – 1920s.

Price:  $10.00            Size:  2 and 5/8 x 3 and 3/4″

At first glance I thought there had been a film developing problem that created that “streaky” look – like one of those photo tricks where points of lights become lines (called optical flares). But, not at all, and happily, someone has given us the description on the reverse. So, this is a shot of the Miraflores Locks in Panama. Out of curiosity, I Googled the query of “how many locks are at the Panama Canal” and found the varied responses of three, six and twelve. Confused? Me, too. From Wikipedia:  

“There are twelve locks in total. A two-step flight at Miraflores and a single flight at Pedro Miguel lift ships from the Pacific up to Gatun Lake; then a triple flight at Gatun lowers them to the Atlantic side.” 

From Design of the Locks:  

“All lock chambers have the same 110 by 1,000 feet dimensions, and they are built in pairs. That is, two lanes of chambers run side by side to accommodate two lanes of traffic, either in opposite directions at the same time or in the same direction, depending on transit needs.”

So, multiply the six by two due to the two-lane accommodation. The Miraflores Locks were completed in May 1913 and part of the original three constructed; the others being Gatun and Pedro Miguel. Since then there has been a Canal Expansion Project that included a new set of locks and was completed in 2017. The expanded canal is also called the Third Set of Locks but this apparently derives from the expansion creating a third lane. (But shouldn’t the number of locks answer be updated? Admittedly, I seem to have gotten stuck in a weird number-of-locks-vortex ;-). I’ll leave all that with you guys, if you’re so inclined.) See below for some interesting reading.

Sources:  Design of the Locks. https://pancanal.com/en/design-of-the-locks/ (accessed August 15, 2023).

Miraflores (Panama). n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miraflores_(Panama) (accessed August 15, 2023).

Panama Canal locks. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Canal_locks (accessed August 15, 2023).

The Expanded Panama Canal. March 31, 2019. https://pa.usembassy.gov/the-expanded-panama-canal/ (accessed September 3, 2023).