Construction of the Panama Canal was first started in the year 1880 by the French, but their efforts proved futile for many reasons. For twenty years they worked in dangerous conditions. The French fought off mosquitoes, diseases, and worked with dangerous and inadequate equipment. Eventually, funds and manpower for building the canal ran out. The French effort came perhaps a decade too early. The technology for the right kinds of machinery and the right kinds of medicines to overcome the harsh conditions of the area simply did not exist yet. The United States picked up where the French had left off and completed an enormous project, "the moon shot of its day" someone once said. The engineering feats of the Panama Canal were considered "ahead of their time."