The French were the First to try and build the Panama Canal, but they failed in 1889. The U.S government bought out the canal for 40 million dollars. We began construction in 1904. It was marvelous engineering by the guidance of our president Theodore Roosevelt. The french began the project in 1882 but failed.Their workers died by malaria and yellow fever and over 20000 workers died.The cost of the Panama canal was over 350 million dollars. At that time it was the most money spent on one project. The Panama Canal had 12 sets of locks and each are important. The locks are used to raise or lower the ships to a new level. When a ships goes through one of the gates the water level decreases or increases depending on the level of the next lock. When the water level is the same as the next lock then the gate opens. Each lock is 1,000 feet long and 110 feet wide. The hardest part building the canal was cutting through the mountain ridge.