This blog was created for USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion Army personnel who served in Taiwan during the 1965-72 time frame. Specifically, those who lived and worked in and around Taipei are the target. If you worked at the Grass Mountain or Gold Mountain facilities or anywhere in downtown Taipei, we would like to hear from you. All are welcome to visit and contribute to this blog. Your comments and pictures are encouraged.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Grass Mountain Complex Today, Taipei, Taiwan, 2010

First of all, my assumption was that the Grass Mountain work site had been demolished. My reports of its demise were greatly exaggerated.

Army Lt. Colonel Scott Ellinger downloaded the 1969 satellite photo from Don Wiggins' posting of September 15, 2010 on his ustdc.blogspot. 

He then performed some software magic on it and found Grass Mountain. Since he is a marathon runner, LTC Ellinger ran right past the place while training.

With that mea culpa, let's go back to Grass Mountain. You might want to check this blog's first post of August 3, 2010 for some idea of how the place looked in 1969.
Fortunately, Don Wiggins has a Taiwan contact who likes declassified photos. Otherwise, it would have taken some more inquires from folks in Taiwan to find the place.

Looking at this photo, President Chiang's summer retreat can be seen at the top. Also recognizable is DaHeng Road where our apartment was.

Somewhere east of the village are the Grass and Gold Mountain work sites. LTC Ellinger was able to find other areas which will be covered in future posts. Just click on the photo to enlarge it.

LTC Ellinger verified that the area circled in red was the Grass Mountain facility as it appeared in the satellite photo. The back road was certainly more serpentine as it began its descent down ZhongYong Road.

Original PowerPoint courtesy of S. Ellinger
This shows the coordinates of the Grass Mountain site. It's uncanny how close Scott was on guessing my position that morning in 1969 when my pictures were taken.

The footprint of the place hasn't changed much from then. There may have been an addition to the day room, but other than that the place is instantly recognizable.

Same picture as before, but with surrounding roads shown

Any doubts about whether this was the old site were erased when viewing this picture. There is a wall instead of a fence, but this is the Grass Mountain duty station.

Here's a shot looking out at the front gate in 1969.
Tennis, anyone?

Gary Roske, my only direct contact from our Stratcom days in Taiwan, sent this one. His wife, Amy, was recently in Taiwan and took this picture of the front gate entrance from the road overlooking the Grass Mountain complex.  Click to enlarge and see a very different entrance from the previous photo.

Looking back up the hill, you can easily see my vantage point in 1969. The basketball court is still there as well.

Everything around the perimeter then was overgrown. We could see the local farmers as they proceeded along their paths next to the fence.

The Chinese guards' barracks were not visible from the road back then due to the abundant vegetation. Another story may have been added, or the entire building might be new.
Looking straight down the hill from just across from the front gate, this picture is disconcerting to those of us familiar with the old road.

Here is a nice wide straight descent with a beautiful background. It was just a narrow clinging ribbon of a road in 1969.

The only missing piece of the puzzle is whether or not the Gold Mountain overseas switchboard is still standing.

Personally, I never saw the place, but know it was a short walk from the Grass Mountain front gate. Guys from Gold Mountain lived in the Grass Mountain barracks.

Click on the 1969 satellite image to see the 2 roads leading to the Grass Mountain site. The blue line is the road we used almost always and ends at the front gate.

The red line is the long and winding road from the back gate. It ended up in a residential neighborhood.

Showing the present road is the line which begins at JingShan Road.

The road to the back gate hasn't changed much in its path. It is now paved all the way down and is extremely narrow.

This view of  the Yangmingshan community was taken from the back road. The Chinese Culture College can be seen far in the distance.

Notice the narrow road winding its way down to an American housing area.
Here is a similar view as the previous picture. This one, however, scans a little south, picking up some more housing areas.
Further down the back road was a stone quarry. The condition of this road is very visible.


  1. Your two 1969 photos looking out over much of the Yangmingshan US Military Housing area towards the Chinese Culture University are quite revealing. They show particularly well Sections C-1, D, and G, as well as the maze or bamboo forest south of the Grass Mountain Community Center and Teen Club and towards Section D. In the back of my mind I have always questioned the accuracy of the date of the 1967 satellite image many of us work with; the extent of development that is shown in the maze in that photo, specifically the road that was carved out and forming a 90-degree bend just west of the GMCC appears to be absent here (preceding the retirement facility at that location you have illustrated in another post). Thank you again John!

  2. Rory, Those two pictures of the CC must have been scanned at least 5 times each. Everything certainly looks different from that greater distance.

    It has been a pleasure working with you. Your pictures and Richard's were very entertaining. John