A display of cultural heritage: Logging train operated by the steam locomotive

2021/03/31

The Alishan Forest Railway and Cultural Heritage Office (AFR), Forestry Bureau, together with the Chiayi Forest District Office, operated the SHAY 31 steam locomotive attached with flatcars to transport timbers from forest thinning operations in the Shuishan Line in the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area on March 31 (2021). The locomotive ran to the Zhaoping Station to meet SHAY 24, which formed a century-old classical scene. AFR invited residents and heritage activists to witness the safeguarding of the Alishan Forestry Railway.

The Ministry of Culture had announced "Alishan Forestry and Railway" as the first "significant cultural landscape" in Taiwan in 2019. This century-old forest railway preserves the development of the forestry industry. The settlement along the line has a unique feature due to the connection of the forest railway. The railway is a testimony of the transformation of the forestry industry into the tourism industry.

After logging had been ceased in the Alishan area after 1963, the area has been transformed into a tourism area. Simultaneously, the railway was gradually transformed into a tourist railway. Forest thinning operations are an important part of forest management. On February 26 (2021), AFR operated SHAY31 to transport Japanese Cedar on the Shuishan, triggering the enthusiastic discussion in the forestry, railway, and history fields. The century-old steam locomotive was operated once again on March 31 (2021) to carry the last batch of thinned logs on the Shuishan Line and then ran to Zhaoping Station, where it met SHAY 24 in display at the station. Many people were attracted to capture rare classic pictures during the flower season.

Huang Miao-Hsiu, AFR's Director, pointed out that the SHAY 31 steam locomotive is a 28-ton SHAY locomotive manufactured by the Lima Locomotive Works, the United States, between 1911 and 1915. In the early days, it was used for logging and transporting timber in Alishan. It was designed with a unique vertical cylinder and a bevel gear to shorten the body, increase transmission power and turn flexibly in the curve section. It overcame the rugged terrain such as curves, tunnels, and steep slopes.

In the heyday of Alishan, the Zhaoping area was a skidding area and a transportation hub. It was the entrance of Yushan and also the place where the community flourished. In the past, after the 28-ton steam locomotive ran to Zhaoping Station, the carriage was diverted to the 18-ton steam locomotive to continue to forest lines, including the Mianyue Line and Shuishan Line.

In order to promote the value of the significant cultural landscape "Alishan Forestry and Railway," AFR once again joined hands with the Chiayi Forest District Office to operate a steam locomotive and invite residents and heritage activists to participate in this historic moment. The core spirit of the cultural landscape lies in the "human-land interaction", that is, the complementarity of the forest railway and forest management. AFR expects to work together with all to complete the mission of inheriting the preservation of "Alishan Forestry and Railway" by such a display.

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Last updated on:2021-06-19
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