The Nicaraguan Canal

Until recently, the concept of a canal being built through Nicaragua to create a shipping route connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea (and therefore the Atlantic Ocean) has been a long dormant idea, and the prospect of it ever being realised was remote.

However on 8 July 2014 the Nicaraguan Government and the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company agreed to proceed with the development of the Nicaraguan canal. See:

Click on the book cover to
download the PDF (5.57MB)

Construction of such a shipping route was first proposed in the early colonial era. Later on, in the early 19th century, Napoleon III wrote an article about its feasibility. The United States did not abandon its own plan to construct a waterway across Nicaragua until after it purchased the French interests in the Panama Canal in the early 20th Century.

Philippe Bunau-Varilla

During the scanning of the Beckett Rankine archive, a fascinating insight into America’s spirited Nicaragua / Panama Canal debate was discovered in a small leather bound booklet published in 1907.
Compiled by Philippe Bunau-Varilla, former Engineer-in-Chief of the Panama Canal and dedicated to: “The Great English Engineer, Sir John Wolfe Barry as a Souvenir of his Memorable Speech about the Problem of the Strait of Panama”, the book is a record of a series of Conferences held to discuss the choice between a Nicaraguan versus Panamanian route for the canal in various American Commercial Engineering Clubs, at Princeton University and at the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York.

The book records the engineering thinking behind what was then the World’s greatest engineering project as well as the historical context behind America’s decision to invest in the Panamanian canal. We wonder whether, over 100 years after its gestation, the even bigger Nicaraguan canal may now actually be built?