The Gaoping Old Iron Bridge (aka Lower Tamsui River Iron Bridge 下淡水溪鐵橋) is a disused railway bridge across the Gaoping River, formerly connecting Kaohsiung to Pingtung. The bridge was retired in 1987 in favor of a new electrified bridge, and the center section of the bridge was washed away during Typhoon Haitang in 2005. At the time of construction, it was the longest bridge in Asia and the first overland pathway created between Kaohsiung and Pintung. Originally planned to be torn down, it was saved by concerned residents on both sides of the river and now stands as a monument to the past.
The Gaoping Old Iron bridge began construction in 1910 and was completed in 1913. A rail link was needed to ship sugar cane and related products from Pingtung to Kaohsiung Harbor.
During the Japanese era, the Gaoping River was known as the lower Tamsui River, hence the name of the bridge was the Lower Tamsui River Iron Bridge.
Due to the river's wide banks and strong current, it was a great engineering feat of its time. Along the way many floods halted and destroyed construction. Two months after construction was complete, the railway from Kaohsiung to Pingtung was officially opened.
The bridge was 1,526 meters long, 7 meters wide, with trusses 15 meters high. At the time of construction, it was the longest bridge in Asia and the first overland pathway created between Kaohsiung and Pintung.
The current trusses on the bridge were built in 1964, to replace the corroding old trusses from the Japanese era.
The bridge was retired in 1987 in favor of a new electrified bridge with two tracks as part of the electrification of Taiwan's railway. The bridge was officially retired in 1992. Originally planned to be torn down, it was saved by concerned residents on both sides of the river and was named a national historic monument in 1997.
The center section of the bridge was washed away during Typhoon Haitang in 2005, washing out the No. 9, 10, and 11 pillars. No. 12 and 14 pillars were also wiped out in a Typhoon in 2006, and another fell in 2008.
In 2018 the wooden cross beams were replaced, which had begun to rot.
Currently there are parks on both sides of the river commemorating the bridge, with more people visiting the Kaohsiung side due to its proximity to down town Dashu.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 29 north to Dashu. Stop when the road goes underneath the railroad. There is plenty of parking nearby. You can also cross the provincial highway 1 bridge to Pingtung and drive to the park on the other side of the bridge.
By Train: Take the TRA to Jiuqutang Station. The park is about a five minute walk away. You can also take the TRA to Liukuaicuo Station and walk back west to the park on the east side, but it is about a 3 KM walk.
Map: Please see below:
When I was young and free living in Kaohsiung, I would go on a long bike ride every day. My second favorite place to ride (after Qijin Beach) was along the Gaoping River. I would ride along the river from Linyuan to Qishan and back on both sides of the river. One of my favorite spots along the river was this bridge and the surrounding parks.
There are plenty of awesome bike paths along the Gaoping River levees. I highly recommend riding there.
Endless farmland along the Gaoping River.
The bridge is not hard to spot along the Gaoping River, it's the one that is missing an entire middles section. There is a wooden path that you can walk up to on either side, and you can walk along the bridge until it gets close to where the bridge is broken.
From here you can see where part of the truss in the bridge is missing. Also you can see the new electrified cement bridge on the right side.
Apparently there are open times, but I think they are referring to everything in front of the fence, climbing over the fence here is never allowed.
Another photo of my rig and the bridge from the Pingtung Side.
"You are now on the step way of Truss K17 (between pier 16 and pier 17) and the end of the broken bridge is Pier 13 (up to 2009, 9.14.) five piers were washed down by floods (original piers 8/9/10/11/12 and 6 trusses in total length of 384 M, 8 of the 6 trusses were listed to high land in the river, one at Kaohsiung end and 2 at Pingtung end), the rest are left in the river a they are difficult to be lifted up and transported. Presently, there are 7 trusses at Kaohsiung end and 11 at Pingtung end."
Behind the bridge on the old track on the Pingtung side are some old railroad cars. This part of the park is less visited and there are lots of stray dogs around.
Inside one of the old railroad cars.
Hiding from the rain
In an abandoned train
Dogs is my bane
Blockin the lane
Other urban explorers hopefully will understand this poem.
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We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.