Monday, October 18, 2010

Miyanoshita, Omiyacho 宮ノ下, 大宮町

Miyanoshita 宮ノ下 is the northernmost station on the Tansui line that could really be considered to be part of Taihoku city proper. Beyond that you get into the nearby towns of Shirin 士林, Hokuto 北投, and eventually Tansui 淡水.

This section from the 1945 US Army survey map shows Miyanoshita station, the surrounding district of Omiyacho 大宮町, the Taiwan Grand Shrine, Meiji Bridge 明治橋, and Maruyama 圓山 to the south.

This 1935 rendering shows an artistic impression of the same area.

The station was built in 1915. After 1945 its name was changed to Jiantan Station 劍潭, and in the 1950s it was closed down. The present-day Taipei MRT has a Jiantan Station but it is quite a bit further north than the original.

I haven't been able to find any photographs of the original station. It may have been very simple, since it does not seem to have been very busy. Near to the original station was a lumber mill, the Tansui-Taihoku highway, and a road leading up to the Taiwan Grand Shrine.

The Taiwan Grand Shrine (台湾神宮 Taiwan jinja) was originally built in 1901 as a Shinto shrine by the Japanese, who had gained control over Taiwan only six years earlier. It was enlarged over the years, growing in importance. In 1944 a passenger plane crashed nearby, and most of the complex was destroyed by fire. After the return of Taiwan to Chinese rule in 1945, the Taiwan Hotel (today's Grand Hotel) was built on the site. A few of the lanterns and stone sculptural features survive.

An undated postcard showing the road leading up to the shrine, with Torii gates and lanterns.

A photograph showing the entrance to the shrine. In the foreground is the Meiji bridge. To me it looks like the roads are paved and have concrete sidewalks. Note the vehicles in the foreground.

The Meiji Bridge 明治橋 was originally constructed in 1901 as a steel structure. In 1930 it was replaced by a new Art Deco-style bridge , which was completed in 1932. The new bridge was built of reinforced concrete, 120 meters long and 17 meters wide, with four brass lanterns set on posts. After retrocession, the bridge was renamed the Zhongshan Bridge 中山橋 after the founder of the Chinese Republic. The bridge stood until 2003, when it was cut into pieces and torn down by the city government. Apparently there are plans to rebuild it, perhaps in a new location as a historical museum piece, but so far (as of late 2010) nothing has materialized.

As can be seen above the bridge was a striking landmark. Rail traffic was carried by a more modest steel and concrete bridge just to the west, pictured below in an image from ca. 1926.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Manka, Nammoncho 萬華, 南門町

Manka 萬華 was originally called Mengxia (艋舺, báng-kah in Taiwanese) and is one of the oldest districts in the city. Manka Station is where the Shinten branch line meets the two-track mainline. Westward the mainline extends to the southern part of Taiwan, to the east it curves upward to follow a broad boulevard in the center of town before reaching Hokumon and Taihoku Stations.

The 1945 map shows how the lines intersect, and the location of the Aka stream to the south. This stream still runs, albeit underground, in modern-day Taipei. In a few locations it's possible to see the stream above ground.

The Taiwan Tetsudo Annai map has somewhat less detail.

This is how the station building looked in the 1970s. It has since been torn down and replaced by a new station complex.

There are also a number of old photographs of the station from 1972. They are under copyright so I am just linking to the blog post where they appear: 老萬華火車站.

There is also a page in Chinese discussing the history of the area's name and some of its historic buildings: 認識艋舺.

To the east is Nammoncho, named for its location surrounding the site of the former South Gate (nammon 南門) of the city wall. A smaller gate, Chongxi Gate 重熙門, was left standing, located at the small circle near the top of the above map. Here the mainline curves toward the north, passing by a police drill station, a hospital, and a school. The Tansui branch line curves south, passing close to the Botanical Gardens.

Here is an undated image of Chongxi Gate 重熙門 (commonly called the Small South Gate 小南門 Shonammon) before the city walls were torn down.

After the walls were torn down broad roadways were built in their place. The city gates that remained were turned into roundabout islands. In 1935 the colonial government recognized this gate as an important historical building and granted it protection. This gate can still be seen today, although the design of the roof was changed in 1966 to reflect the style of northern Chinese palace architecture.

Shonammon Street in two undated photographs. Shoincho was the district just to the north

The hospital in the neighbourhood, 衛戌病院 (might be pronounced Eiinu byoin but I'm not sure), was built to serve the Japanese army in 1896. I only have an undated image of the front gates.

Some of the above images are from the excellent Taiwan Historical Image Archive.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Interlocking Tower

Found this image of an interlocking tower somewhere in southern Taiwan, posted by a Japanese railfan. It certainly looks like its dates to the 1930s or earlier, although as with many old buildings part of it (the ground floor here) has been covered with a concrete shell. I think this would be a great design to copy to create a plausible building from the era.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Taihoku Station 台北駅

Taihoku's first station was built by Liu Mingchuan as a stop on the Qing-dynasty railroad, but in 1900 the Japanese built the station pictured above in a new location. Note the Rickshaws parked in front, a Japanese invention that used human labor to pull people in shaded comfort.

These two maps, from 1935 and 1945, show Taihoku station's location at the intersection of the main line and the Tansui branch line. The brick station used many of the materials from Taihoku's old city wall, demolished by the Japanese authorities to open up a series of broad roads lined with trees. Some of the city gates, including the North Gate, were left standing.

It's pretty clear that in front of the station was a large square, and at some point the statue of the seated figure above was added. I suspect that the large building with the smokestack in the first of the two above images is the Tobacco Factory noted on the maps.

In 1938 the station was torn down and replaced by an Art Deco-style station, built of reinforced concrete. Since the target year for the layout is 1937, and since the earlier station has more character in many ways, I'm planning on modeling the earlier station. In the 1980s the newer station was demolished to make way for the present-day station.

Update Oct 2010:

Undated image of an express train at Taihoku Station. The 500 series (this one is 532) was produced in Japan from 1919 to 1928, and after 1945 was known as the CT150 class in Taiwan.

This picture from 1936 shows the back of the main station building, as well as pedestrian crossing boards.

A birds-eye view from ca. 1932 showing the station and forecourt.

This shot from 1935 shows one of the buildings of the Tobacco Factory that stood just to the northeast of the station, near where the Tansui branch curved off to the north. This angle is from the south looking north. You can see a corner of this complex on the color postcard above.

A real overview shot of the station and surrounding area, looking west. The Tobacco factory complex shows up much lighter than the other buildings. You can also see how crowded this area had become, with small buildings and houses coming right up to the station roundhouse and platforms. The boulevard that runs from the bottom left to the center middle used to be the city wall, torn down soon after the Japanese took control of the island. The mainline followed the curve in the upper middle of the image and headed to the left in the middle of another wide boulevard, called sansen doro 三線道路, or Three-lane Road.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Locomotive

My girlfriend is extremely kind-hearted and understanding, and she bought me an N-scale locomotive off of eBay to help get me started. As I mentioned in my last post, the model is of a D51 and will be resigned as a Taiwanese DT650. In honor of my girlfriend, I'm going to name this first locomotive the Emma (絵馬号). I doubt that naming locomotives is prototypical (naming entire trains is another matter) but I'm doing it anyway.

In other news I picked up some N scale code 55 and code 80 track made by Atlas. The D51 locomotive fits well on both, but looking at how low the wheel flanges are, and considering that I'm still getting started, I think I'm going to still with code 80 track for now. I found a random picture of a Taiwanese railway station from the colonial period, and the tie spacing looks much closer to what I see on the code 80 track. Plus if you look up what the model rails would represent in terms of real rail sizes, even code 55 rail is much too heavy for what I think was used on the Taiwanese lines. So code 80 it is.

Given that I'm going to be moving around a lot in the next few years, I'm going to stick to making small dioramas to practice my modeling skills. I'm also looking in to making hand-laid track, code 80 of course.

Edit: Actually the locomotive looks pretty good on the code 55 track, and I think it may just be the leading wheels that present a potential problem. Any advice on which to use? I know that there is a lot more selection in code 80.