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.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Tropic Of Cancer, Taiwan

One of the frustrating features of blogging is the location of the posts.  Each post comes after the previous post until many are buried and begin collecting cyber dust.

For instance, this post is the 12th and last publishing of a series done with the photos taken by Tom Jones in 1957-58. 

After receiving Tom's permission, I picked groups of his pictures and tried to tie them together.

All of the photos not wanted were left to others, including Kent Mathieu of who comprised a solid journey Tom took through Matsu.

So, thank you, Tom,  for all of the wonderful pictures. If any of you would like to see the previous 11, or any other post,  just click "Older Posts" at the bottom of each page.

Our last posting in this series is about the Tropic of Cancer, an imaginary line, which passes through Taiwan.

Kent Mathieu and friends have been to the monument in Hualien County. To read Kent's post, click HERE.

With a flat world, the Tropic of Cancer location is indicated by the red line.

As it passes through Taiwan in a couple of locations, tourist attractions have been erected. About the lower 1/3 of Taiwan is considered to be tropical.

In the United States, the line passes through the Bermudas, but doesn't touch Florida. So, Miami is just a few miles north and is actually not considered officially tropical.

Cuba is just south of the line in the Florida Straits. So, Havana is considered to be in the tropics.

Out in the Pacific, the line comes close to Necker Island, northwest of Honolulu by over 400 miles. That puts the state of Hawaii firmly into the tropics.

South of the Tropic of Cancer is the Equator. South of the Equator is the corresponding area of the tropics in the southern hemisphere called the Tropic of Capricorn.

As indicated, the Tropic of Cancer coordinates put it out in the middle of some field, just as it was in 1958.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Here is a picture of the Chiayi City square. The picture of President Chiang is clearly visible. As with the case of other villages, this area is now heavily populated.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

So, in 1958, Tom walked outside Chiayi City and took this picture. Later, the monument was moved when a railroad was built, but it is still in a township in Chiayi County.
Photo by Bernard Gagnon
Photo courtesy of

This plaque at the base of a monument gives the coordinates for the original monument which appear to be different to those used at the beginning of this post.

The Tropic of Cancer actually shifts positions as the years  pass. These other monuments add to the park's attractions.

What looks somewhat like a flying saucer is a very new addition to the Chiayi Monument Park. It attracts tourists and students.

This Tropic of Cancer monument is part of the Hualien County Park
Map from World Atlas

From top to bottom we have The Arctic Circle, The Tropic of Cancer, The Equator, The Tropic of Capricorn and The Antarctic Circle. These are major measurements for latitudes.

The Prime Meridian splits the world in half at 0 degrees longitude. It passes through Greenwich, England which gives us the world standard as to time.

Zulu time is, therefore, always the time it is in Greenwich, England which also goes by GMT or Greenwich Mean Time.

Not surprisingly, because of the earth's uneven rotation, all lines of longitude and latitude are not always exactly the same.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Two-Way Traffic On A One Lane Road

Blasting through granite and other stone was sometimes a necessary part of initial road construction throughout Taiwan. 

Tom Jones came across a now-famous road called the Suhua Highway (Provincial Highway 9).  It is called by many as the most beautiful highway in Taiwan.

Today it's about 73 miles long (118 km). The Japanese built it and it was open for traffic in 1932. However, not all of it was 2-lane.

The northern part was one lane only and getting from point A to B was tricky. Cars traveled in bunches of 6, and pulled off the road onto areas where they could wave to cars coming the other way.

The entire road was widened in the late 1980s into 1990. Michael Turton has a wonderful article on the highway as it looks today. To read the text and see the photos, click HERE. 

East and south of Keelung is the beginning of Suhua Highway in Suao Township.

Some 73 miles later is the southern terminus in Hualien City.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

For many of us who lived in Taiwan in the 1950s and 1960s, the site of men actually constructing and paving roads was not unusual.

This picture was taken in Matsu, but could easily have been in almost any other province of Taiwan.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Look to the immediate left of this picture and notice the footpath leading up from the road. Made in Taiwan by Taiwanese

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

One of Tom's best pictures, the highway, with its single lane, makes its way around the bend.

Our apartment in Yangmingshan had clouds blow by occasionally, but this system seems stationary on this mountain.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Look closely and you'll see a car in the distance. This may have been an area to pull off to allow opposing traffic to pass.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This section of the gravel-covered road had a concrete barrier which was unusual.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Whatever the sign indicates, let's hope it says " STOP!" With the power lines overhead and a tunnel in the distance, it looks similar to many other pictures.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Years later, at approximately the same site with the tunnel, Jeff Wang took this picture of an abandoned section of the old road. Just compare it with the photo above.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

There are some pictures that we take that mean so much more than just a still shot. This young Taiwanese aboriginal woman stands proudly in front of her earthen hut.

Isolated for so many centuries, these people were a reason why the Japanese built the Suhua Highway. To me, she looks very dignified as she pauses from her chores.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

In her native attire, she poses again for another picture. Taken over 50 years ago, don't you wonder what this area looks like now.  It could be in one of many places in Taiwan.

As for the native Taiwanese woman, here in her flip-flops, what became of her and her family..
Photo by Fred Hsu 2009

The Suhua Highway is still prone to mudslides. Heavy winds and rain can saturate most any steep surface with a soft underground.

This happened to us once at Grass Mountain. The main road going to our work station was blocked for a week.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Then And Now Pictures Of Northern Taiwan

Some of Tom Jones' pictures lend themselves to a theme.

This one might be associated with some of Tom's commenters actually finding the approximate spot where he took pictures over 50 years ago.

Along with Cherry Ho, who previously tracked down the Four Roses Bar, we have others who have taken photos recently.

This is the northern coast of Taiwan, heading toward Keelung. 

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This area is near the Yehliu Cape. Many unusual onshore formations are nearby.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

In 2012, Jeff Wang lined up the cape from the first photo above and took this picture of Yehliu with a temple visible in the distance.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Here is Tom's photo of a simple dirt road which was taken in the 1957-58 time period.
Photo courtesy of George Lane

There must be something special about this stretch of highway. George Lane took this picture in 1968.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Here is the same general area today with the road paved and marked.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Either Cherry Ho or Jason Chen or both stacked the previous two pictures together.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

A picture of the northern coastal plain is shown in the distance.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Joseph Wang took this picture which shows the same coastal area as it appears now.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Here is the stacked photo of the two pictures above done by Joseph Wang.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

When Tom took this picture, the power lines stand out prominently.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Cherry Ho found the bottom picture somewhere and made a stacked photo of it with the picture above with all of the communication lines.