Jiahe Railway Tunnel 嘉和遮體

A railway tunnel on the coastal plains of Pingtung.

Here is yet another roadside curiosity in the deep south of Taiwan 台灣: a false tunnel on the coastal plains of Fāngshān 枋山, Pingtung 屏東. It doesn’t cut through any mountainside nor is it built to withstand landslides. It’s just an 1,180 meter tunnel that trains pass through for no discernible reason. I first read about this on Michael Turton’s blog and later saw it on my first round-the-island bicycle tour. More recently, which is to say just a few days ago, I took a spin through the southern loop once again, and spent a little extra time examining this concrete oddity in an attempt to divine its purpose.

The north end of the false tunnel from a distance.

At first I was working with the idea that it’s yet another Japanese colonial era military structure much like the anti-aircraft turret that I had chanced upon previously. It didn’t look quite so old—but it’s made out of concrete and might have been renovated at some point given that it is still in active use.

The tunnel stretches for more than a kilometer.

Like most of these small mysteries all it took was for me to transcribe the characters on the plaque over the entrance: Jiāhé Zhētǐ 嘉和遮體. Google hasn’t been any help in translating this name—perhaps Jiahe Railway Tunnel might suffice? At any rate, knowing the formal name opens up a tremendous amount of information in the Chinese language blogosphere, for instance here, here, here.

The south entrance to the false tunnel in Fangshan.

From the aforementioned links I’ve been able to puzzle out what this place is really for. It was completed in 1991 to shield passing trains from the navy’s live ammunition tests on the hillside beyond—hence the added bulk on the seaward side of the tunnel. By that time some genius had come up with a better idea than building a false tunnel more than a kilometer long: why not shoot at some other target that doesn’t have passenger trains running in front? Naval exercises were moved further south to someplace in Héngchūn 恆春 nowhere near the railway system and from the sounds of it this garish, improbable monstrosity never saw any use whatsoever (apart from lining the pockets of some contractor somewhere).

South Taiwan Ride 2015 南台灣自行車旅行

This series chronicles a multi-day bicycle trip around the deep south of Taiwan 台灣, specifically from Tainan 台南 to Taitung 台東 in June 2015. Along the way I visited many places in Kaohsiung 高雄 and especially Pingtung 屏東. A lot of what I saw and experienced hasn't been written about in English very much so I've taken some extra time to provide background information to better contextualize what's in the many photographs in this series. Altogether this is a complete trip journal clocking in at around 20,000 words from start to finish!

  1. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Tainan to Pingtung City
  2. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Pingtung City
  3. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Pingtung City to Fangliao
  4. Chaozhou Liu House 潮州劉厝
  5. Chaozhou Jiukuaicuo Catholic Church 潮州九塊厝天主堂
  6. Xinpi Machine Gun Fort 新埤反空降機槍碉堡
  7. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Fangliao to Manzhou
  8. Fangliao Factory 枋寮工廠
  9. Jiahe Railway Tunnel 嘉和遮體
  10. Tsai Ing-wen Old House 蔡英文古厝
  11. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Manzhou to Dawu
  12. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Dawu to Taitung City
  13. Dawu Theater 大武戲院
  14. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Taitung City
  15. Taitung Chinese Association 台東中華會館
  16. Datong Theater 大同戲院
  17. Fuyou Building 富有大樓

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