2012年6月25日 星期一

The Guan-du Tunnel and Gorge

[An old friend: BK24, the steam locomotive that had served Tamsui Railroad faithfully between 1901 and 1954; now on display on Guan-Fu Campus of National Cheng-Kung University.]

Tamsui Railroad opened for business in 1901. It was a one-hour ride between Tamsui and Taipei enjoyed by generations of Tamsui-lang until 1988 when it was demolished to make way for the Taipei Metro. It had the same gauge [1,067mm] as the rest of the Taiwan Railroad system; although the steel rails were lighter in weight that could not support regular locomotives. A less powerful and smaller Model BK24 [the Columbia, manufactured by Japan Steam Engine Co in 1901] therefore must be used which was also the only locomotive that could fit comfortably into the Guan-du Tunnel [關渡隧道]. Therein, however, lied the problem: since the tunnel, sitting next to the Guan-du Station, was situated at the top of a slow slope, the train often must back up a short distance to literally gather steam before charging uphill into the tunnel. There was also a very steep curve immediately after the tunnel. The centrifugal force was fun for most boys, heart-stopping for others. People were known to mutter prayers during this part of the train ride. And our regular contributor ChoSan still remembers the ritual of passengers having to close the windows when the train was inside the tunnel. The dense soot-rich dusty smoke from the coal-fired steam engine was quite over-powering indeed.

Here are maps from before (made in 1921-28) and now (from Google maps today), both showing the sharp bend of the railway and, in the area below the bend, the Guan-du Gorge, where the Keelung River and the Tamsui River merge. The gorge was widened in 1964 to facilitate the water flow especially during the typhoon season:

After the sharp bend, now there is the Guan-du Bridge, built in 1980-83. The engineers had used a labor-saving technique, the 潮汐施工法, i.e., large pieces of the columns were dragged to the construction site at high tide, and lowered/fitted into place, almost automatically, when the water receded at low tide. A bit beyond the bridge, the riverbed apparently drops resulting in the white rapids. While the bridge connects Bali with the eastern shore of Tamsui River, the east end also loops into the bottleneck of the highway to Tamsui. Most travelers now take the well-run Taipei MRT Tamsui Line, just like in the olden railroad days, instead of driving.

2012年6月24日 星期日


Tropical storm Talim went by Tamsui 3 days ago. It brought clouds and rain, leaving, fortunately, no lasting damages. Christina took these photos, looking towards Guan-du (top), at Guan-yin Mountain (middle), and at the mouth of Tamsui River:

Another piece of good news: the newly reclaimed land from the River, near the MRT Station, has remained intact:

The concern for its survival stems from the past disappearance of the delta [known as the 浮線]. The delta was severely eroded by a tidal wave from upstream when the Guan-du gorge was blasted open in 1964. And to make matters worse, full-scale harvesting of sands from the River was officially sanctioned on July 1, 1982. It was not until April 30, 1989, that the practice was finally banned. By then, however, the delta was totally gone, and with it, part of Tamsui-ren's memory.

2012年6月15日 星期五

In search of General Sun Kai-Hua孫開華提督

General Sun Kai-Hua was the defender of Hobe/Tamsui during the Sino-French war. The Hunan Braves 湖南勇 under his command defeated the French fusiliers marins (Oct 8, 1884) winning the only victory in this war at the Battle of Fisherman's Wharf.

General Sun, however, had left no personal effects behind in Tamsui, not even a portrait. British Consul Alexander Frater did record in detail the dealings between the two in his reports to British Foreign Ministry. For example, Sun had asked for Dr Johanson's assistance, who was then the resident physician at Ft San Domingo, to treat the wounded soldiers. And Frater on the other hand had sought for Sun's assurance that the practice of cutting off of the French war dead's heads for rewards would cease. Both requests were granted.

General Sun was from Chi-li County in Hunan and owned a 50-acre estate in Yan-Po-Du Township. After the Battle of Fisherman's Wharf, he was reassigned to other duties in Hokkien until his death in 1893, never returned to his hometown again.

James Wu, a member of Tamsui Peace Park (TPP) supporting committee, has visited Sun's old house and filed this report:




又據鄒書記所述, 孫開華岩泊渡故居原佔地五十畝,含二十八宿四十八個天井宅邸四週挖掘水溝是謂[水繞四門],但是經過1958年大躍進和1966年文革時的破壞如今已成照片中的殘垣。然最近幾年因有本籍多人開始蒐集研究逐漸炒熱其事跡,慈利縣委才於今年初向省府提出修建其故居一案,故居原貌由數位當地耆老尋記憶描述繪製,今日造訪得知省府已批准並撥款人民幣一億年內動工修建。


聞其數年前曾回祖籍瞻仰過的孫女 [note: granddaughter 孙克俊] 現居美國,但並未留下通訊地址給當地政府。

[Above: The main residential house and below: its interior]

[Below: Brick-stone walls of unknown purpose - part of the remnants of the 水繞四門]

[Above and below: woodwork details of the main residence]
Essentially, after years of neglect and destruction, General Sun's hometown folks now know much less about him than the grateful folks of Tamsui. Also, two more Hunan Braves' graves have recently been discovered. To fully restore the history, we now will need to recruit the help of the descendents of General Sun and his Hunan Braves, or those who know of them. Please email hmcheng542@msn.com or leave a comment. Thank you very much.

2012年6月9日 星期六

淡水信用組合 (1918 - present)

Miss Christina Hong kindly sent these photos of the Tamsui Cooperative Trust:
[Above: taken on the 20th anniversary of its founding and bottom: present-day]

The Tamsui Cooperative Trust 淡水信用組合 (now 淡水信用合作社 at 67 Chung Cheng Road, a post-war name change) was founded in 1917 with 103 members, including 吳輔卿 (who had also served one term as the mayor of Tamsui), 林金鐘, 許丙 (the chief of staff of the famed Banqiao Lin Family), and officially opened for business on Oct 5, 1918. The first chairman was Mr 洪以南 who was also the mayor of Tamsui. Mr 洪以南 was succeeded by 吳輔卿, 施坤山, 汪水汴, 郭水源, 盧阿山, 李元貴, 朱木火, 吳獻璜, 高欽三, and 呂子昌. This Trust, established and operated by the locals, has been instrumental in the economic development of Tamsui, in the beginning when the international shipping declined as well as during the more recent dark period when the Taipei Metro was being built (1988).

[A token of appreciation from Tamsui Agricultural Association]

Interestingly, a bomb shelter in its basement from the 1944-45 era is still preserved.