Taiwan’s stunning 106-year-old mountain railway

Date: 18th September 2018
By: Maggie Hiufu Wong

Visiting Alishan: Built more than 100 years ago, the Alishan Forest Railway is perhaps the best way to explore Alishan, one of Taiwan’s most important mountain ranges. Lai Guo-hua, an aerial photographer who lives next to the railway, spent more than three years documenting it.
courtesy Lai Guo-hua

Chiayi, Taiwan (CNN) — As a red and cream-colored train chugs up the Alishan mountains of Taiwan, hikers and villagers stop and wave at the passengers on board.
It feels like an adventure, harking back to a time when train travel was new and exciting.
And in a way, it is.

The train has embarked on one of the newly introduced cruise-style tours on the century-old Alishan Forest Railway, a network of 71.4 kilometers (44.4 miles) of narrow-gauge rail lines in central Taiwan’s Alishan mountain range.

Former Japanese logging railway
Completed in 1912 under the Japanese occupation, the Alishan Forest Railway was used to transport now-endangered Taiwan cypress trees from Alishan. After logging was banned, it lived on as the only passenger train to ride up the mountains.

Today, it remains one of the world’s most historic and beautiful mountain railways.

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