A 50-mile shortcut to the Pacific lying just north of the equator is one of the most extraordinary human achievements ever. The building of the Panama Canal was a massive feat of engineering and ingenuity that cost millions of dollars and thousands of lives. NOVA offers a unique opportunity to explore the mind-boggling undertaking through historic film footage, rare archival photographs and insightful narration from author David McCullough. Get an unprecedented look at the Canal's dangerous 30-year construction and wondrous present-day operation. Meet the persevering pioneers whose vision and determination overcame tremendous physical-and fiscal obstacles. Understand why France abandoned the project after ten years and 20,000 deaths. Work alongside the builders who turned a fantastic dream into a fascinating reality. See immense steam-shovels carve the earth. View the amazing "water elevators" that lift huge vessels 85 feet. Watch high-speed photography capture a lock passage. And much more!