By Panama Canal Authority
Last updated 2011-02-17
The first complete Panama Canal passage by a self-propelled, ocean-going vessel took place on 7 January 1914 - when the Alexandre La Valley, an old French crane boat, made that first trip.
Plans had originally been made for a grand celebration to mark the official opening of the Panama Canal on 15 August 1914, but the onset of World War One forced the cancellation of the planned festivities. The grand opening ended up as a modest affair, with the Canal cement boat, Ancon, piloted by Captain John Constantine, making the first official trip.
There were no international dignitaries to witness the historic event, although Colonel Goethals, the Canal's Chief Engineer from 1907, followed the ship up through the Canal, thanks to the Panamanian railroad.