Corinth is a city located in southern Greece about 50 miles from Athens. About two miles from the city a narrow isthmus forms a land bridge between the main landmass of Greece and the Peloponnesus. The isthmus is less than four miles wide and separates the Peloponnesian peninsular from the Greek mainland.
Ancient Corinth controlled the two major harbors and thus command of the trade routes between Asia and Rome. In those days small ships were often dragged across the isthmus on a paved road. Larger ships unloaded their cargo, which was then carried across the isthmus and then reloaded onto other ships.
Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Caligula all considered making a canal through the isthmus. In 67 A.D. Nero came to Corinth for a groundbreaking ceremony for a canal to be dug by Jewish prisoners, but the project was abandoned. It was not until 1881 that work was begun on the Corinth Canal and French engineers completed the project in 1893.
Today the Corinth Canal, 4 miles in length, cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. Earth cliffs flanking either side of the canal are over 200 feet high.
Before the canal was built, ships sailing between the Aegean and Adriatic had to circumnavigate the Peloponnese adding about 185 nautical miles to their journey. It saved sea-going vessels immense amounts of time as it provided a much shorter nautical route to the west from Athens.
An idea that lingered almost two centuries brought welcomed relief to sea going vessels.
Upon completion of the canal ships no longer had to off load their cargo and have it transported over land to the other port. That was wonderful news in the 19th century. However, the fact that the canal is only 70 feet wide at its base, makes it unusable to most modern ships. Only modest sized cruise ships and other smaller vessels use the canal nowadays.
The story of the Corinth Canal illustrates at least two things. It reminds us that great things sometime need time before they can be realized. It is easy to give up on an idea when obstacles prevent implementation. To get discouraged and decide it is either impossible or not worth the effort. Secondly, this story is also a reminder that life is a continuum and what works at one time might not be practical at another. Sometimes ideas become obsolete or need revision.
In either case we should not be discouraged from dreaming, planning, and doing. God is constantly creating and allowing us to share in the creative activity.