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An experiential journal of synchronicity and connection

Xiluo Bridge 西螺大橋

Xiluo Bridge, the gateway to Yunlin County.

Xiluo Bridge 西螺大橋 (also Hsilo or Siluo Bridge; 中文) spans the mighty Zhuóshuǐ River 濁水溪, the unofficial boundary between north and south Taiwan 台灣, and connects the counties of Changhua 彰化 and Yúnlín 雲林. Construction began in the late 1930s under Japanese colonial rule but came to a halt after the attack on Pearl Harbor as the allotted steel was needed for the war effort.

At nearly two kilometers in length this was one of the longest bridges in the world when it was built. The seal at top left is that of Chen Cheng 陳誠, former Premier of the Republic of China.

In 1952 the bridge was completed by the incoming Chinese Nationalist government with help from the USA. At 1,939 meters in length it was one of the longest bridges in the world when it was finished—second only to the Golden Gate Bridge at that time—and became such a source of national pride that it appeared on Taiwanese bank notes and stamps in the 1960s. Originally it was equipped with sugar railway tracks but these have been removed and nowadays only light road traffic is permitted to cross the bridge.

Crossing the mighty Zhoushui River beneath the distinctive red trusses of the Xiluo Bridge.
Looking north along the length of Xiluo Bridge from Yunlin County. On the left you can see the outline of the Xizhou Recycling Plant 溪州資源回收場 in Changhua 彰化.

I was attracted to Xiluo Bridge after seeing in pictures and reading a little about its history. I made my first crossing at night while riding a bicycle from Tainan to Changhua. Not long thereafter I returned to Xīluó 西螺 and crossed by day. It is a beautiful and refreshing ride across the broad alluvial plains and it isn’t so highly trafficked that you cannot stop along the way and admire the scenery framed by the distinctive red steel structure of the Warren trusses.

Red and blue converge across the broad floodplains.
Reflections of the Changhua terminus of the Xiluo Bridge.

By night the southern terminus of the Xiluo Bridge comes alive with the sound of music and the sight of dozens of locals enjoying a night on the riverbank. There are tables, chairs, and other places to sit, several mobile cafes selling drinks and snack, and a stage setup for bands and karaoke. I can’t say whether this is a regular occurrence or not but I saw crowds along the riverbank on more than one occasion so I would imagine it’s fairly commonplace. Xiluo retains a distinctly vintage vibe and these gatherings feel like a throwback to simpler times in the town of swords and vegetables. And, as luck would have it, this beautiful old bridge was declared a historic site in the 2000s, so there are no plans to tear it down. Something of the past will live on.

Naturally there are many Chinese language blogs about this historic bridge with many more photos; for a small sampling try here, here, here, and here.

1 Comment

  1. The “mighty” Zhuoshui River? My wife is from Xiluo, and I’ve crossed the Xiluo Bridge more times than I can remember, during all seasons and times of day. I realize that due to geography, Taiwanese rivers aren’t particularly awe-inspiring (they tend to reach the sea before getting much of a chance to build up steam), but except during typhoons, nothing about the Zhuoshui ever struck me as being “mighty”.

    The bridge is pretty cool, though…

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