Wed, Jul 10, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Alishan Forest rail line becomes first new heritage site

MORE TO COME?Cheng Li-chiun said reclassifying the railway as a ‘significant cultural landscape’ would boost efforts for it to be listed as a world heritage

By Chen Ching-min and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

People take pictures of a narrow-gauge steam train passing beneath blossoming cherry trees at Alishan in Chiayi County in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of the Alishan Forest Railway and Cultural Heritage Office

Chiayi County’s Alishan Forest Railway yesterday became the first site in Taiwan to be listed as a “significant cultural landscape” under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法).

The railway, which is under the jurisdiction of the Forestry Bureau’s Alishan Forest Railway and Cultural Heritage Office, runs through the county and Chiayi City.

In March last year, National Taipei University of the Arts Graduate Institute of Architecture and Cultural Heritage director Huang Shih-chuan (黃士娟) fought for the reclassification of the railway, which was already a registered “cultural landscape,” on the basis of its significance to the historical development of forestry and railways in Taiwan.

The proposal was approved by the Ministry of Culture after an evaluation of the railway’s cultural value, an on-site survey, a public hearing and other procedures.

Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) yesterday made the official announcement and presented a certificate to bureau, county and city officials at the railway’s Jhuci Station, which is a registered monument.

The railway is a rare case in which a registered cultural landscape crosses city and county lines, she said.

The new classification would boost the nation’s efforts to obtain world heritage status for the site, she added.

A section of the railway spanning 66.6km from Chiayi Station to Erwanping Station was completed in December 1912, office Director Huang Miao-hsiu (黃妙修) said.

To accommodate the development of forestry in the area, the route was later extended to Alishan Station and branch lines were added, she said, adding that the railway now spans 71.4km.

The Alishan Forest Railway is a world-renowned mountain railway that features zigzags, U-turns, spirals and Shay locomotives, she said.

Within the site, eight monuments and 42 historic buildings have been designated, she added.

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