“It’s a conversation acrossing time and space with the history of humanities. -- a must-visit destination for fans of railway culture.”
Alishan in southern Taiwan is one of the top five mountain ranges in Taiwan and the name of a series of mountains and hills in the Alishan Mountain Range; it is more than just a single mountain summit. In the past, it was rich in Taiwan red false cypress and yellow cypress. During Taiwan was under Japanese rule, the alpine railways were built as a transportation system to exploit the forest resources in the mountains. Due to the peak period of railway development worldwide, there were multiple methods adopted for constructing railways to overcome the rough terrain in the Alishan Mountain Range. The railway system is one of the rare heritage of operational alpine railways in the world.
The railway was completed in 1912 for logging purposes, and delivery lasted until the end of the 1960s. Being the trading hub of the forest resources in Alishan and the logging railway system for more than 50 years, Chiayi was brought unprecedented prosperity.
The present-day Chiayi city still retains the social fabric of the centennial forestry culture development. “Former Beimen Station” was the starting point of the steam train in the past; the train operation still relies on manpower. “Chiayi Station” is the place to see the gauge differences between the so-called forest railway nicknamed “Wufen Mini Train”(narrow gauge train) and the TRA railway nicknamed “Qifen Train.”(metre gauge train) The high-speed train runs on a standard gauge track, and is also called the “Shifen Train.” At “Chiayi Garage Park,” visitors can see the regular routine train maintenance and different retired trains during several periods. “Chiayi Landmark and Historical Place” was the place for wood storage; the historical buildings and remaining structures, including the sawmill, power plant, etc. have been kept; visitors can discover the traces of prosperity over the past years in the forestry settlements. “Hinoki Village” was originally the dormitories and residences for forest-management military officers. These well-kept and abundant hundred-year-old forestry and cultural heritage sites are well worth spending all day enjoying in accordance with the city’s slow-paced way of life.
【Alishan Forest Railway Cultural Journey】
After arriving at Chiayi Station, visitors can start the route by walking all the way; the suggested time required is 3 – 5hr. The guided tour service is available in each session; groups of more than 20 but fewer than 120 people can make a reservation with the Alishan Forest Railway and Cultural Heritage Office 14 days before their arrival. (Phone number: 886-5-277-9843 ext. 359.)
Chiayi Station (suggested time required: 30min, including walking time.) → Former Beimen Station (30min) → Chiayi Garage Park (1hr) → Chiayi Landmark and Historical Place (1hr) →Hinoki Village (1hr).