Balboa’s discovery of the Pacific Ocean in 1513 initiated a long series of explorations in search of a passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific. In the course of these expeditions the Straits of Magellan were first navigated, followed not long after by the discovery of a navigable passage around Cape Horn. However, both routes are dangerous as well as so distant from the main arteries of trade as to be impracticable. The nearest approach to a water route between the two oceans, Lake Nicaragua, was found by Davila in 1522 while he was leading an expedition north from Panama. This great inland sea, only 12 miles from the Pacific, was named after Nicaroa, the principal Indian cacique in that vicinity. It was not until 1529, when Machuca came into the region, that a connection with the Atlantic was found, a river from the lake to the ocean was navigable for small boats.
The Proposed Nicaragua Canal
By James L. Denig