Saturday, April 18, 2015

Panama Canal: Miraflores Locks

Miraflores Locks
Panama Canal

N 08° 59.818 W 079° 35.497

Short Description: 

The Miraflores Locks are the final set of locks on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal. They are located south of Miraflores Lake and north of the Pacific Ocean.

Miraflores Damn

Long Description:

The Panama Canal was constructed between 1881 and 1914. There are three sets of locks, two lakes and one long rock cut along the Panama Canal. Each has historic name of the area in which they are built. The Pedro Miguel Locks are the middle set and smallest of the of locks of the Panama Canal. They are south of the Culebra Cut and the continental divide and north of Miraflores Lake.

The Miraflores Locks contains a set of two parallel locks each containing a two chambers. All the present locks on the Panama Canal are operated by gravity. In the case of the Miraflores Locks, fresh water from Miraflores Lake into the Locks and out to the Pacific Ocean. When the water flows out of the locks into  the Pacific Ocean, ships are lowered 54 feet in two stages. For northbound traffic, ships are raised 54 feet in two stges when water flows into the locks from the Miraflores Lake.  Ships are then raised until the water level is even with Miraflores Lake allowing ships to then exit. The entire system relies upon rainfall for its operation.

The Miraflores Locks are 33.5 meters wide and 320 meters long with a usable length of 304.8 meters. The lock chambers made of concrete with side walls that taper from 45' - 55' at the base to 8' at the top. The center dividing wall is 60' thick.
Visitors Center
A visitors center on the southeast end of the Miraflores Locks allows visitors see the Miraflores locks operation. The highlight would be viewing the passage of a cruise ship through the locks.

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