Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Taiwan Sugar Railway

This railway station looks the perfect place to wait for a train and maybe look at the luxurious palms. My sender, Joseph, says this station was built for a sugar factory in 1910 and the card explains more if Mandarin  is one of your languages, unfortunately despite a love of  Wuxia films its not one of mine.
Sugar has been grown in Taiwan for 300 years and in the early 20th century under Japanese rule a narrow gauge (2 ft 6 ins) railway was built and run by the Meji Sugar Co Ltd,  after that time it came to be operated by the Taiwan Sugar Corporation. At its peak there were 3000 Km of track which hauled sugar cane from the fields to the mills and  also a small amount of passenger use (a lot of the lines linked to main stations).  Trade gradually declined and most refineries closed so today it is a shadow of its former self but some parts are in use and also visited by tourists, the little stations are scattered along the lines. I have seen a few photographs but can't see the one on the postcard.  For all rail enthusiasts Citycat's Railway site has some wonderful photographs of Taiwan railways from old to new and more. They definitely look as though they would be fun to ride.

The card came with one of the 
   2012 'Berries' definitives, Solanum americanum, the Glossy Nightshade which in Taiwan grows in waste places, roadsides and fields. In some countries the leaves are used as a vegetables. Like all nightshades the berries are toxic, the green more so than the ripe ones shown on the stamp, although I read that sometimes they are made into jam and it is though that the boiling process breaks down the toxicity. I don't think I'll test that theory.

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