Why is the Panama Canal in Panama? Why isn’t it the Nicaragua Canal (as originally intended)? This long arch in the oldest part of Panama City supplies the answer.

Surveyors were keen to drive a canal through Central America, but there was a problem with the ideal spot: volcanoes and earthquakes. Not only would these make the building almost impossible, they’d impact on the reliability of any finished canal.

Then in Panama, the surveyors saw this arch. Clearly this was an area that was unaffected by earthquakes. The surveyors noted this down – and the Panama Canal project took a giant leap forward.

The arch finally collapsed on this day (7 November) 2003, and was subsequently restored (as you can see). But the collapse did prove that it was a true arch and not supported by internal beam running through the middle.

I await my invitation from the QI Elves.

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