The Great Interoceanic Nicaragua Canal

Hey, did you hear they want to build a canal through Nicaragua?

Yeah, I just overheard someone talking about that…about 300 years ago.

Yes, people have been talking about digging a trench across the country for that long. Usually it wasn’t Nicaraguans talking about it, though. The government of New Spain discussed it in the 1700s. The Federal Republic of Central America and the United States discussed it in the 1800s and it was nearly a go until that looney toon William Walker took over Nicaragua. The US government along with private enterprises kept it in the cards for a long while after that, and even bought out the French who had haphazardly started work down in Panama. The idea was given up in 1902 when the US congress finally voted down Nicaragua in favor of Panama, mainly due to a clever lobbying scheme by NY lawyer William Cromwell. The canal’s fate was sealed by a little regalito from Nicaragua sent to every senator…a stamp featuring the image of an erupting Momotombo. Too risky they said. Next.

Today people are talking about HKND and the $50,000,000,000 project that is supposed to bring the country out of the economic ditch it wallows in. That projection is in doubt by some who point at the Panama Canal and say, “See?” Others who support that projection in Nicaragua point to themselves and say, “We’re different.” Regardless, everybody is pointing to the Ortega/Jing project and saying, “Wow.”

nicaragua canal

The Great Interoceanic Canal proposal, 2013

If you have done any reading about Nicaragua lately you have probably heard of this canal proposal. It’s the biggest thing since… well, the last canal proposal, the Great Nicaragua Dry Canal project of 2000. Two years ago that was all that people talked about in Bluefields…the Dry Canal is coming, the Dry Canal is coming!…and people went on with their everyday lives. That was sooo 2012. Now it’s the Interoceanic Canal that’s coming, the great bootstrap that is going to lift people up and out of poverty, that will put a hot water shower in every bathroom and 24/7 electricity in every house. And people go on with their everyday lives.

It’s no wonder…people here have heard a lot of canal talk. Their parents, grandparents, indian great grandparents, slave great great grandparents and slave owner great great great grandparents have heard a lot of canal talk.

Here is a collection of maps of some of the old canal proposals I dusted off for your viewing pleasure.

Uncle Sam hacks the nicaraguan canal

Uncle Sam ready to take a swing…and misses. 1895

Nicaragua canal map

American Atlantic and Pacific Ship Canal Company, 1851

Canal nicaragua original

Detail of Pacific-to-lake connection, 1851

Nicaragua panama canal

Bradstreet Pocket Atlas, 1885

Canal in Nicaragua

French map from 1858

Greytown wood print

San Juan de Nicaragua, entrance to the proposed canal on the Caribbean side, 1849

map of nicaragua canal

Unknown publisher, 1889

french canal nicaragua

French map, 1855

Nica canal map

Nicaraguan map, 1890

nica map canal

Relief map, 1902

canal nicaragua map

SF Examiner, Sunday, February 12, 1939

Old nicaragua map

Julius Bien & Co, 1870?

nica map

Close up of Julius Bien map

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4 Responses to “The Great Interoceanic Nicaragua Canal”

  1. Mike @ Farmstay El Portón Verde12 March, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    hey Casey, I love maps in general and these I find fascinating. Awhile ago I blogged about a lecture given to the National Geographic Society in 1888 by John Lloyd Stephens which you can either read or listen to via audiovox.

    http://www.elportonverde.com/2014/02/03/across-nicaragua-transit-machete/

    The geologist makes a good case for why Nicaragua was superior to Panama. Not the least of which he mentions is due to the constant tradewinds which keep the climate healthier.

    Cheers, -Mike

    • Casey12 March, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

      Wow that’s really cool! Don’t know how I missed that one.

      By the way I updated the post so that you can click on the images to see the original sizes. Can’t wait to listen to the lecture!

      Casey

  2. Gail Nystrom22 April, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    I work in la carpio costa rica with nicaraguan immigrants. Several people have told me about this canal project. I find it so difficult to hear them talk about it because makes it seem like this is the magic solution to the immense poverty and no job opportunities. Ia this just another bitter disappointment they will have to take? How cruel if so.

  3. George Wu22 April, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    The way I understand it is that the canal which was originally get started in 2014 has been postponed to 2015. Is this true?

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