The Panama Canal took approximately 10 years to construct. The U.S. took over the project from the French in 1904, and the canal was officially opened on August 15, 1914. At the peak of its excavation, workers dug out the equivalent of the English Channel Tunnel (or Chunnel) once every 14 weeks.
The most challenging aspect associated with the excavation of the Panama Canal was the removal of a continental divide comprised of hard rock. The divide rose 100 meters above sea level. The excavation through the divide is known as the Culebra Cut.
Once complete, the canal cut roughly 7,800 miles off the sea journey from New York to San Francisco.