Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Views Along The Historical Mountain Railroad

      After posting a preview article on the CK124 steam engine that will run again in August, I have to force myself to write this article which was in my draft box for 10 months already. The scenic along this mountain side railroad is one of my favor travel places. It is historical and a place with simplicity and spirits of the Taiwan people. 
Brief History of the Taiwan Railroad
     In 1884 Taiwan defeated the French during the Sino-French War, Taiwan became one of Qing Dynasty's provinces in 1885. The first governor of Taiwan, Liu Ming Chuan, took the railroad tracks which were being used to build their railroad system in China, but were being destroyed by the Chinese people because of superstitious reasons to Taiwan for defensive and economic developments. In 1887, he hired engineers of British H. C. Matheson and German John Bireh to construct the first railroad, 28.6 km long from Taipei to Keelung. The first running train was in 1891 with a speed of 20 km per hour. In 1888, the railroad extent from Taipei to Sinchu a total of 78 km.
     After the first Sino-Japanese War, Taiwan was given to Japan in 1895. The Japanese government in Taiwan was aggressive in rebuilding and construct new railway systems for transporting natural resources and also setting up a colonial model for its colonized counties in Southeast Asia. In 1908 it finished the most difficult segment of the railway system from Sanyi to Taian with an elevation topping of at 402.326 meter. Taiwan west railway system from Keelung to Kaohsiung was completed.
This map covering the entire mountain
railroad segment was a self guide system in
Chinese only. Click
Photo Source:

     The only possible time for taking the famous historical train ride was in Summers. We didn't have a chance to take the ride. So my husband and I decided to take our friend there by car. Looking at all the pictures that I took during the trip, I forgot to take the old street of Sanyi and the old train station. It was a big mistake for blogging this article. Anyways, it was worth while to visit the old Sanyi street with massive and famous wood sculptures in Taiwan. Take Sanyi exit on freeway 1 and follow the signs. 
The red line led us to the famous tourist spots. 
This was a cute sign. Jiu Shan Xian means the old
mountain line which refers to the old railroad line.
As we paralleled with the old railroad,
two workers were repainting and restoring
the sign. It looked too new to adapt in an
old environment.
I was curios about this small Earth God temple. So
here I was. 
No all the earth god temples have
dragon pillars. This was a special one. 

It was first build in the Qing dynasty 
and was rebuilt during times of 
Weeds overgrew on the railroad and
we were going to trace down its route. 
No far from the small temple by car, we saw people
walking out from the tunnel. I decided to walking
through this tunnel to see what it was like.
My husband had to drive to the other
unknown end to pick us up. While
walking in the tunnel, I had to comfort
my girlfriend because she was afraid
of walking in the dark. 
Walking on the old railroad had a special
feeling. I was tracing its history and
appreciating its forms coordinated with
the natural environment. What would it be 

at the end of the curve? I asked myself.
After going through the tunnel I realized
that my husband probably couldn't find
us because the end was different than
I thought. That became my problem.
I better behave for the next few minutes
after I saw him again. Ha-ha! Well, this
building in the picture was a watch tower 

during the martial law period. 
I had no idea about this piece metal
and its function but I knew it was very
important to the track and also those
 railroad fans. My husband said it was a 

device for changing the train to a different 
track. (a track switch) Did it say "I am 
strong and still survive in this crucial 
We just followed the track and
didn't know where we would end
up with. It seemed like we would
arrived at a station. 
We arrived at the highest point of the
railway system which is called Sheng
Xing Station. My mission at this point 

was to find my dear husband.
The old wooden building during the Japanese period 
was still standing there. It gave this place a sense of
antiquity. But the new sign which hung on the top
of door just diminished the feeling.
This cat sat there to take a winter sun 
bath. It was like a lazy and relaxing day. 
A stele was set up to commemorate the great achieve.
The inscriptions on the front were: The highest point of 

Taiwan Railway System 403.326 meter above the sea
level. The side was Sheng Xing Train Station.
Coffee shops and restaurants were along the tracks. 
A couple came here to have their
wedding pictures done before they
got married. It is a custom in
Taiwan. People pay certain money
for certain sets of pictures, cosmetic
make up for bride and groom, 3-4 set
of dressed in different styles, etc.
It was chilly and we were amazed by
the future bride who wore little.  
Here was the old street with some souvenir stores
and restaurants. It definitely became a popular
tourist town in this mountain remote area.   
One of the souvenir stores still remained
its old wiring system during the Japanese time.
Most residents here were Hakka people who ancestors
came to Taiwan later than the Holo people. So they settled 

down on the hill sides due to the scarce plain lands
during the 17th and 18th centuries.   
Most Hakka people had a tough life in the early time. 
Therefore, Hakka people's frugal lifestyle and tough-
life enduring spirits were well known in Taiwan. 
Our delicious and reasonable Hakka lunch
After lunch we drove down to the south and arrived 
at the Yutengping Broken Bridge 魚藤坪斷橋 or
龍騰斷橋. It was built by the Japanese government 
 and destroyed by the Guandaoshan Earthquake in 
1935. Th Japanese govenment built another bridge
across to replace this bridge.  In 1999 it was also
damaged by the 921 Earthquake.
This bridge was the second bridge.
It was also abandoned in 1998. Now
both bridges have become popular scenic
attraction spots. 
I looked up at the supporting pillars of the second
bridge from the small trail below with its suspension 

bridge which crossed the riverbed. 
My good man already had parked our car
and waited for us at the other end of the trail. 
The tree roots and vines already occupied
the supporting pillars of the first bridge. It
was amazing how nature worked with human made architecture. 
After lunch and taking a short walk, it was about time 
for a treat. The strawberry farm was not far away from 
the broken bridge. We were lucky to be there when it 
was in season. 
It was fun to pick fresh strawberries. 
Our journey for the day would end
up at this train station which was called Taian. 
This monument was to commemorate more than 3,200
people who died in the earthquake of 1935. The inscription
was in Japanese. After WWII, the Japanese left, the

villagers sealed the inscription with concrete because they
wanted to wipe out their tough colonized life inder the 
Japanese. It was rediscovered through weathering .     
The platform in Taian is higher than the station.
The underground walkway served as a shelter
during WWII. According to the local old folks,
only Japanese could hide under the walkway and
Taiwanese could only stand at the edge of the
shelter. Taiwanese were used as a human shied. The 

metal supports were the old tracks which were 
damaged during the earthquake in 1935.
We though the train was under maintenance
for the summer of 2011. 
All metal supports were dated when it was made.
This one was the oldest in 1905.  
Photographers hired a model to shoot their photos at the
Western style station. The Japanese government applied
the western architectural forms in all governmental offices
and public buildings like museums and train stations.
The train station was surrounded by old streets and
houses. It was a very nice walk around this neighborhood.  
Before heading back to Taichung city, we stopped by
the new Taian train station which was 5 floors high.  
No attendant served at this station after 4 or 5 pm .
If you head to this area by train, you better check 

out its schedule. Elevator for handicap or old people
would be closed also. It was not convenient for
disable or people who carried a lot of stuffs.     
This was its platform. It was very windy. 
Rice paddies were in its neighborhood
A commute train had just arrived as we left.
One day I was alone and wondered this area
while waiting for the train. I found a flower farm
with its owner lived next to it. I walked in and started
talking to the farmers.  I had a great experience with
them. This time I decided to introduce this flower
farm to my husband and my friend. 
We did a lot of talking with the farmers and they told
us about their business for exporting the flowers to other 
countries, etc. The farmer in this picture was sorting the
seeds and preparing for next season. 
This is one of my favor flowers.
I did pick some fresh flowers 

to take home.  

If you think about taking the train ride in Aug. You should act quickly because the ticket sells out soon. 

Miaoli County Travel EBook: http://miaolitravel.net/files/quarterly/TWMiaoliAll.pdf
You can find transportation information here also.

Reference Source:

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