Thursday, October 19 2006 @ 06:53 PM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
* When opened in 1914, the canal was the single most expensive project ever undertaken by the United States at a cost of $375 million, four times the price of the Suez Canal. France had started building the waterway in the 19th century but gave up after its project went bankrupt.
* France's Paul Gauguin, one of the leading painters of the post-impressionist period, helped to dig the Panama Canal as a laborer briefly. But he found the work tough and he left the country after he was arrested for urinating in public. From 1891 he lived in Tahiti and elsewhere in the South Pacific.