As one might expect, the lighthouses of Panamá are generally associated with passage through the Panama Canal. The Canal opened on 15 August 1914, after ten years of U.S. construction following earlier work by a French company.
In 1903, shortly after winning its independence from Colombia, Panama granted the U.S. extraterritorial jurisdiction over the Canal Zone. The Zone remained under exclusive U.S. control until the Panama Canal Treaty, ratified in 1978, provided for its restoration to Panama. Under the treaty, Panama assumed full operation of the Canal at the end of 1999. The U.S. Panama Canal Commission, which operated the canal until the reversion, is now the Autoridad del Canal de Panamá (Panama Canal Authority).
The Authority is expanding the Canal, doubling its capacity by constructing a third set of locks and widening and deepening the entire route. Groundbreaking for this enormous project was held in September 2007, and the work is scheduled for completion in 2015. This project may result in the removal or replacement of at least some of the historic lighthouses.
Some 35 range lighthouses were constructed to help guide ships through the Canal, and many of these lighthouses are reported still in service.
Toro Point Lighthouse:
1893. Active; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); white light, 5 s on, 25 s off. 27.5 m (90 ft) steel skeletal tower with central cylinder, mounted on a stone base. Entire lighthouse painted white. This elegant lighthouse, built by the French during their efforts to construct the Canal, is a familiar landmark for everyone passing through the waterway. Located at the root of the Limón Bay West Breakwater, on the west side of the entrance to Limón Bay from the Caribbean.
Atlantic Entrance Range Middle Lighthouse:
1914. Active; focal plane 48 m (158 ft); occulting green light visible only on the range line. 14 m (46 ft) concrete tower with lantern and gallery. J. Located on Lighthouse Road in the town of Gatún, roughly 500 m (0.3 mi) east of the Gatún Locks and 1.2 km (3/4 mi) south of the middle range light.
Gatún Northbound Rear (Gatún Locks) Lighthouse: