On August 11, 1939, Congress authorized the immediate construction of the third locks. Each chamber was to be 1,200 feet long and 135 feet wide. They were to be located about half a mile east of the original flight in Gatun. Gatun was to become an island between the two sets of locks and was in for some of the greatest boom days of its up-and-down history. An official estimate of the force to be required set a peak of over 9,000 workers by 1943. The third locks on the Pacific Side were to be adjacent to Miraflores Locks on the west side.
In January 1941, the contracting firm of Wunderlich & Okes signed a contract for the excavation. Construction men moved in. In the bottom of the third locks cut, now a great, gaping hole, giant shovels dumped their loads into dozens of trucks which raced about on the right-hand side of the imaginary highways below, and then, when they reached the top, switched over to the left-hand drive and sedate speed limits of those days. From an observation platform, which still stands at the end of High Street, anyone could watch the ordered turmoil below.
A few months after Pearl Harbor, Samuel Rosoff of New York, won the $45,705,000 contract to build the new Locks. Wunderlich & Okes completed their contract in May 1943, but the Rosoff contract was canceled. Shipping had been diverted to the war areas, cement and steel were all but unobtainable and there was military difference of opinion on the strategic value of the third locks. The project was never completed.
January 17, 1999