Friday, July 10, 2009

921 Memorials: the Shihgang Dam

Not far from the Shihgang Dam, a group of men were playing croquet in a grassy space among the reeds and farms along the river.

Central Taiwan is filled with relics. Not historical relics, or religious remains, but structures laid to waste by the 921 earthquake, and then preserved by the miracle of public construction funds as parks and memorials. The Shihgang Dam, outside of the small town of Shihgang east of Fengyuan, is one of many such sites.

My son atop the Dam

The Dam was finished in 1977. Roughly 350 meters long and 25 meters high, according to the signs at the site, the quake raised one abutment 12 meters, utterly wrecking one side of the dam. It no longer has the ability to perform flood regulation, and is now used only for irrigation. A new weir constructed upstream has taken over its flood duties. It remains an important water source for Changhua County, according to one government website. Many local government websites promote it as a tourist site ('the mighty Shihgang Dam"). Having experienced it in person, I can only say that the target market must consist of some terribly thrill-starved tourists.

The entrance to the memorial at the Dam, with "921" emblazoned on the concrete walkway. The Dam lies along one of the scenic bikeways in the area. Since I often bike in the area, I decided to visit the Dam with my son this morning as we passed by on our way home.

The park preserves part of one wrecked abutment.

Another view of the wreck.

Signs give some idea of what happened. The sign says that before the earthquake the Dam was at 272 meters, and after, 284 meters.

The current dam, seen from the reservoir side.

As you ascend the (metal) stairs to the top of the Dam, you see this warning. A common problem at tourist sites is that the signage is not made to last, and looks awful after a couple of years.

Downstream from the dam are some lovely rock formations.

Looking over the reservoir towards the mountains.

Dressed up as a broken leaf, a butterfly rests on one of the fences of the little park.

Downstream from the dam, a lone fisherman takes a chance on a pool of water.

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the KMT is really smart in how they have managed the Chinese tourists. They seem to be sending these Chinese tourists to "Nowhere", Taiwan for "tourist attractions". All of these attractions are hastily made, local contrivances... but they bring in a little tourist revenue. The township chiefs and county councilors all get to take the credit and the locals, especially in many traditionally green areas, get accustomed to the tourism economy. They are held hostage by the shift in the local economy.

The Chinese tourism trade has become the a new KMT patronage network. I used to go by that dam all the time. Then one day they had stalls out with loads of tourist hiking around the fields and buying garbage.

I just got back from another tourist destination that was brimming with Chinese tourists... Yu Lin's very own... Dou Liu.