Yunlin culture group helps revive interest in local history

Taiwan Today
Date: June 28, 2019

Traditional stores line Yanping Road in Xiluo Township of western Taiwan’s Yunlin County. (Staff photos/Huang Chung-hsin)

Yunlin boasts a rich and complex past. The western Taiwan county’s fertile soil has attracted settlers for millennia, with the earliest known residents being the Hoanya people. Nearly four centuries ago, some of the first Han immigrants to Taiwan settled in the area, and the Dutch East India Company based an outpost on Yunlin’s coast during its colonial rule (1624-1662) over parts of the island.

This varied history remains underappreciated both inside and outside Taiwan, but local group the Luoyoung Cultural and Educational Foundation is looking to change that.

In the late 1990s, a group of cultural preservation enthusiasts in Yunlin’s Xiluo Township launched a campaign to save a bridge over the Zhuoshui River. The 1,939-meter structure, connecting Xiluo with Xizhou Township to the north in central Taiwan’s Changhua County, was among the longest in the world at the time of its completion in 1952. Activists and residents were united in their opposition to government plans to demolish the landmark, and ultimately proved successful in protecting this prominent piece of local history.

The LCEF is the group primarily responsible for saving the structure. Founded by township native Louise Ho, it organized the Xiluo Bridge Cultural Tourism Festival in 2001 to celebrate the triumphant conservation campaign. The event featured sculptures by some of Taiwan’s most celebrated artists, such as Ju Ming and Yang Yu-yu, and attracted more than 200,000 visitors.

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