Listen to the Wetlands – the History of
Kaohsiung’s Industrial Development
The Sankuaicuo Station in the 1960s and the nearby factories (Illustrated by Shu-duan Chen; information from the survey and maintenance report on the grade 3 historic relic of the Sankuaicuo Station; The Rise and Fall of the Sankuaicuo Train Station, Bureau of Cultural Aairs, Kaohsiung City, 2007)
A Conjunction of History
During the Ming and Qing dynasties, many Hang people migrated to Taiwan to reclaim the wastelands. Some of them established communities along Love River and named each section of the River as a “port”. Long Shui Port, the section along Hexi Road and between Jiouru Bridge and Jhonghua Road, is located at the central section of Love River; used to be one of the major passageways to Zuoying Old City for communities in Sankuaicuo and Yancheng. Long Shui Port was once surrounded by a network of ponds. To its south was a dense mangrove forest where Jhongdou Wetlands Park is located today, and further south was Sankuaicuo (today’s Sanmin District).
  The Sankuaicuo Station stimulated the industrial and commercial development in the peripheral area. This photo shows the wooden buildings of the Station. (Photo provided by Lin-lin Hsu; information from The Rise and Fall of the Sankuaicuo Train Station, Bureau of Cultural Aairs, Kaohsiung City, 2007)
     
  Jhongdou Tangrong Brick Kiln supplied bricks needed for the construction of the railways and buildings in the peripheral areas.

A photo of wood storage ponds of plywood factories in the 1960s (Photo from the database of Council for Cultural Aairs, the Executive Yuan)
Wood Storage Pond
Wood logs enter into the wood storage pond through the ditch. Storing wood in the water helps to prevent cracks and woodworms. It also allows the release of resin and prolongs the storage life of the wood.
 
During the Japanese ruling period, the Japanese government, considering the requirements for ruling and economic development, constructed a massive railway network in the region. It built the Sankuaicuo Train Station as a complement to the transportation through Love River and the Port of Kaohsiung. It also established the Sankuaicuo Light Industrial Park where Taiwan’s largest brick kiln and facilities, such as ethanol and canning factories, were located. With an increasing number of migrant workers, this region grew into a community and became the Jhongdou region we know today.
The Prime Time of the Wood Industry

Thanks to the brick making business involved in the use of earth to make bricks, Jhongdou was peppered with numerous excavated ponds and low-lying ground, which were then turned into wood storage ponds for wood companies. After Taiwan’s retrocession, wood materials were imported from Southeast Asia to Taiwan via the Port of Kaohsiung, which led to the formation of the plywood industry cluster in the Jhongdou region. The materials were transported to the wood storage ditch in the industrial park of Jhongdou through the Love River, processed into plywood, and again left the Port of Kaohsiung to countries all over the world.

During the 1970s, there were up to 25 plywood factories in Jhongdou, including the well-known Lin’s Plywood and Asia United Plywood. The factories and wood storage ponds of these two plywood companies are exactly where today’s Jhongdou Wetlands Park is located.

Bringing the River and the City to Life
During the prime time of the plywood industry, Love River was silted up with tree bark and severely polluted by the factories along the banks. The government therefore inhibited the transportation of wood logs through Love River. Since the 1980s, land along the mid- and downstream of Love River have been turning into residential, commercial and agricultural areas, making plywood companies move abroad and bringing an end to the heyday of the wood industry along Love River.
A view of the wetlands and mixed species forests prior to the establishment of the Park. Prior to the establishment of the Park, the wood storage ditch was still connected to Love River but had been left idle for years.

By the end of the 1990s, the restoration work of mid- and downstream sections of Love River achieved a favorable result. After the improvement of the water quality, Kaohsiung City government made waterfront space accessible to the public. It renovated the landscape at the downstream section and installed a variety of waterfront activity facilities, built Love River
Wetlands Park at the section near Jhongdou (east of Jiouru Road and at the section along Tongmeng 3rd Road), demolished cement embankments and constructed elegant and natural ecological revetments with ecological engineering methods. All of these eorts marked the beginning of the restoration of Jhongdou’s natural and refreshing look.

Located to the east of Love River Wetlands Park, Jhongdou Wetlands Park has not only expanded the waterfront space of Kaohsiung City but also recovered a once lost tropical coastal wetland for the city and the Earth. Strolling in the midst of this peaceful space, you will feel as if you are listening to the wonderful stories of Jhongdou over the past centuries told by waterways, waterfowls and mangroves. The Park is heading toward the next natural and fantastic century with its vibrant life! (Script reviewed by Lin-lin Hsu, the director-general of
the Love River Cultural Association, Kaohsiung City.)

Few plywood factories are still kept intact at the northwest corner of the Park.


 

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