Apparently inspired by the ancient Chinese proverb about an old man moving a mountain, for more than a year a group of elderly miners have been weeding, moving stones and paving roads to uncover an old mine railway, which was buried for the past 26 years in the former gold mining town of Jinguashih in New Taipei City’s Ruifang District. The group is urging the government to classify the area as an official historic site or historic building under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act. The government is currently in the middle of the review process.
Cheng Chun-shan, an old Jinguashih miner, says that Taiwan Metals Mining Co shut down operations in 1987, and the railway fell into disuse, while the mine trolleys were auctioned off for scrap metal and the abandoned tracks were gradually overtaken by weeds and the wilderness.
Starting in October last year, four seniors — Cheng Chun-shan, Chen Shih-cheng, Lin Cheng-hsiung and Chang A-hui — along with dozens of other septuagenarians, commenced their project of “finding the road they once traversed.” With sickles and hoes in hand, they have walked the desolate hillside, chopping down weeds taller than themselves and clearing away boulders that fell down the hillside during typhoons. “We don’t have any particular agenda. We just want to locate the road again, which is part of Jinguashih residents’ collective memory,” Cheng says.
The hard work of the seniors has gradually received recognition from the government. Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai organized a team to survey the area on April 9, the New Taipei City Culture Affairs Department invited experts and academics to survey the area at the end of July, and an evaluation meeting was held on Dec. 6. A decision is expected to be made in the coming days as to whether the Jinguashih mine railway will be protected under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)