The last field trip
My first year and first job in Taiwan was coming to a close. My first field trip had been to a mountain, this one was too the Luodong Forest Culture Park. It was not my first trip to the Forest Culture Park but it was my most memorable. When the rain was forcing us to take cover we played games and I showed the students how some of the old logging methods worked. The strange mix of history, art, nature and old wood made a strangely compelling mix.
Back in 1905 Taiwan was a colony of Japan. Naturally, Japan was interested in extracting natural resources from the island. The islands of Japan do not have a lot of natural resources and they had already had used up many of them. One of those resources was wood. So in 1905 the Japanese started logging Taipingshan and set up a major processing center in what is now Luodong Forest Culture Park. Originally the logs were floated down the rivers. Then in 1921 a railway was completed and lumber was moved on trains.
Even after they had a railway they had to get the logs off the mountain to the railway. Two options were creating a slide (left) or to drag them on sleds(right). Both posed their own dangers and were used more in the early days of logging. There are displays of both systems at the Luodong Forest Culture Park.
Like many places on the east coast of Taiwan, Luodong grew massively under Japanese occupation. Luodong became the commercial hub of Yilan county. The workers’ dorms at the logging yard were soon surrounded by an expanding city. When Nationalist Chinese forces took Taiwan over they kept many of the Japanese monopolies and industries. Logging continued at Taipingshan until 1982. Falling out of disuse the site was eventually changed into the cultural park that we see today.
Luodong Forest Culture Park
So what is there now? Actually, a lot of the old buildings are still there. Many of them have been turned into stores or cafes. There is also a building that is about all the uses of bamboo.
Luodong Forest Culture Park is a popular place for people to relax and take photos. Wedding photos are a big deal in Taiwan, so naturally, you may see people taking wedding photos. The buildings are open from 8PM to 5PM but you are free to wander around the grounds outside those times.
Probably the most striking part of the park is the log pond. The log pond was built to preserve the higher quality logs that were sunk for storage. By putting them under water the logs were protected from splitting and from rotting. To get the logs into the pond there was a slide were the railway met the pond.
Now the pond is the home of forgotten logs and lots of birds. The current train runs past the pond still today.It has a walkway that goes all around it and is a popular place for people to relax.
Personally, I thought the most interesting part was the old workers’ dorm. The logging industry moved people into remote areas where there was often little population at the time. This made the work communities and the schools they set up the center of their social life.
Located at 118 Zhongzheng North Road in Luodong the Luodong Forest Culture Park is a good place to check out if you end up in Luodong.