The Panama Canal: A Remarkable Engineering Feat

The Panama Canal is one of the wonders of the contemporary world, and we owe it a tremendous deal of appreciation. It served as both a key economic asset and a crucial tactic for the United States (Engdahl, 2012). The film, titled "Adventures: Panama Canal- The Mountain and Mosquitoes," offers a nuanced view of the undertaking's accomplishment in the face of numerous challenges. Using an incredible database of images, rare interviews with canal workers, footage, and first-person experiences of life in the canal zone, it tells the tale of the greatest engineering feat of the 20th century (Lotthammer, 2017). Therefore, the main aim of building the canal was to shorten the distance between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

The Journey of Building the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal project was started by Theodore Roosevelt. Goethals wrote: “Theodore Roosevelt was the real builder of the Panama Canal” (Engdahl, 2012). Before the canal was built, France had tried many times in the 1880s. They failed, and the U.S took up the project. A lot happened during the building period, and John Stevens was appointed the project’s engineer in 1905. He rebuilt the settlements where the workers lived and improved their living conditions. The outbreaks of Yellow Fever plague and Malaria killed many of the workers, but the diseases were eventually eradicated.

Overcoming Challenges: Triumphs and Transformations

After completion of the project, John went to reorganize the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia. The Goethals succeeded him. The topography was intolerable consisting of mountains, jungles, and a water-filled chasm that were nine miles long. The tropical rainforest climate translated to severe weather conditions for the workers and the threat of deadly predators.

Leadership: Key Figures and Their Qualities

John Stevens was a manager in 1905 and was the replacement of the initial project manager Findley Wallace. This happened after Wallace was frustrated after the increased bureaucracy and poor project management and resigned from that position. John Stevens was chosen as the Chief Engineer due to his accomplishments and success of building the Great Northern Railway. He was recognized for expanding the American railway lines and contributed to the white settlement of the Pacific Northwest (Engdahl, 2012). During his work, Stevens realized the need for investment in infrastructures such as railway, renovation of the old houses used by the French, and proper sanitation. However, Stevens did not stay long in the position since he resigned after twenty months of operation.

Achieving the Impossible: Solidarity and Vision

Five leaders and their respective qualities can be identified. The center of focus is John Stevens. He was not afraid of taking up the project even after Roosevelt had previously described it as 'a devil of a mess' (Engdahl, 2012). The second leader is Colonel William Gorgas, who proved to be revolutionary. He eradicated Yellow Fever and malaria by instituting a public health campaign. The third is President Theodore Roosevelt, who can be deemed as a caring character. He wants to shut down the project due to the death of several workers. Later on, he visits patients in Gorgas’ hospital wards. The fourth leader is President Woodrow Wilson, who displayed a remarkable sense of direction in ensuring proper continuity of the project and even presided over its opening. The fifth President is Taft, who showed commendable discernment by hiring John. He also had the quality of dedication as he visited the canal and workers regularly.

Lessons Learned and Their Application

Through the shared vision approach, people working on the construction of Panama Canal saw themselves working towards the greater good of the country. As a result, Stevens was able to make his way through the mountains, being helped by Doctor William who ensured the workers were safe from diseases and healthy. All the workers in Panama fumigated their homes and assured that all the breeding grounds for mosquitoes were cleared. This reduced the death rate of the laborers, thus, boosting their morale. The president's support of Panama assured the workers of backup from the country and all its citizens, creating a picture of solidarity towards their efforts in the construction. He also threw the military support behind a Panamanian independence movement, eventually making a deal with the new government on the construction in 1903 that gave rights in permanence to the Canal Zone.

A Legacy of Transformation

Different changes took place in the entire building of the canal. In the beginning, its proposed location was by engineer Philippe-Jean-Bunau-Varilla to Panama from Nicaragua. The impact of this was the escape of Nicaraguan volcanism that would have been a threat to both the project and the workers. During the project, yellow fever was eliminated by Gorgas, but people started getting infected with Malaria. Many people relocated to higher grounds in search of safer settlement areas. After termination of the building process, the U.S transfers oversight of the canal in 1999 to Panama. An expansion project began in 2007, which allowed the transit of larger ships (Engdahl, 2012).

Application of Lessons Learned: Tucker and Organizational Growth

Tucker demonstrated quality managerial skills that could be applied in any team to achieve proper decision-making and overall growth. The first lesson is hard work while staying positive. Just like his situation, one may experience opposition, but only your family will stand by the business idea. Secondly, he discourages giving up. People may think of the plan as impossible and proceed to criticize it. Thirdly, Tucker points out the need to treat workers right by giving them credit and being open to their ideas which helps to motivate them enhancing their performance. Moreover, Tucker recommends that it is essential to know who to trust. He was rendered powerless when his Board ousted him; betrayed by the very people he trusted. Finally, innovativeness is critical. Tucker achieved his dreams by building automobiles. The same applied to any organization can assist it to stand out as amongst the best in the industry.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, it is evident that tribulations bombard attempts to attain a goal. Nothing that is good comes easy. Many leaders in today’s society would not have managed to overcome the challenges experienced during John Steven’s management (Engdahl, 2012). It is vital that proper management values and skills be instilled in upcoming leaders. Teamwork should be a top priority accompanied by the will to be consistent. It is not only necessary for the growth and development of organizations in the future, but that of society and the nation as a whole too.


Engdahl, S. (2012). Building the Panama Canal. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press.

Lotthammer, K. (2017). Adventures: Panama Canal the Mountain and the Mosquito (full documentary) ||NatGeo|| [Video file]. Retrieved from

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