The Taiwan Coal Museum (aka New Pingxi Coal Mine Museum) is a former coal mine turned museum near Shifen Station on the Pingxi Railway line. Here you can ride in era coal carts and have an authentic experience of Taiwan coal mining life. The mine is the only one in Taiwan that still holds mining rights, and the only one with operating "one eyed monk" electric locomotives that you can actually ride.
The museum is located on the old site of the New Pingxi Coal Mine (新平溪煤礦) which started operations in 1965. However by 1997 the mine had closed down due to lower prices for importing coal. The museum was completed in 2001 as the Taiwan Coal Mine Museum, then renamed in 2012 as the New Pingxi Coal Mine Museum under new management.
The Pingxi Railway was completed in the 1920s during the Japanese colonization of Taiwan, in order to ship coal from mines nearby. The area around Pingxi was once the most prosperous mining locations Taiwan, bringing in hundreds of thousands of tons of coal in a year.
However the coal mining industry died down and the mining industry was shut down due to safety issues and low coal prices in the 1990s,
200 NT per person
9 AM - 5PM, tickets are no longer sold after 4 PM.
How to get there:
By Train: Take the TRA to Ruifang Station, and then switch to the Pingxi Railway line. Get off at Shifen Station, and the walk up the hill the highway 2 north until you reach the museum. It's about a 15-20 minute walk from the station.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 2 east toward Pinglin; the museum is on your left after the tunnel right before you reach the Shifen bridge.
Please see below:
As a lover of Taiwan Coal Mine History, once I learned that there was a Taiwan Coal Mine Museum, of course I wanted to go. However they close kind of early. Usually I hit up Pingxi in the evening and visiting the coal mine museum is far down on the list behind hiking, seeing waterfalls, and visiting old streets. But on one Saturday I had no plans so I did a trip just for this museum, otherwise I don't know if I would have ever gone. There is just so much else to do in Pingxi. But having said that, this museum is fun and educational and I would highly recommend it.
Be careful parking a car because it is a hefty 100 NT per vehicle to park here. Scooters are free. There are public restrooms near the entrance.
The workhorse for the coal miners in Taiwan was what they call a "One eyed little monk" (獨眼小僧) which is a miniature train that looks like it has one eye and is painted yellow similar to a monks robes I guess.
After you buy the 200 NT ticket, they give you a free flashlight/bottle opener. This will come in handy later on your tour.
Signage at the entrance in case you get lost.
Immediately we were taken on the "One eyed little monk" ride.
To tell you the truth, I was not expecting there to be a ride. It probably the best part of the trip. Super bumpy and slow, but still fun.
There is a giant hoisting wheel at the front of the mine that is very prominent.
"This hoisting motor was placed inside of the mine pit, it was 1,283 meters away from the entrance and had 300 horsepower. Its main function was to pull up and send down the coal carts loaded with workers, coal, rock, and timber that were on a slope, the capacity around 20 carts."
We rode past the entrance, which is covered until you reach the parking lot.
Along the path you can see era photos of the mine at work.
Going further into the forest.
Going over a small iron bridge.
A sky lantern that has fallen into the swamp.
"The Abandoned Rock Mountain"
Coal mining created tons of waste rock that were deposited as a giant mountain. This is a secret spot that can only be seen if you ask one of the drivers to stop and take you there. We did not see it on this trip.
Photo of the rock mountain. Because of its instability, heavy rains can cause rockfall on the mountain.
Another photo dating back to 1980.
Lots sky lantern in the woods.
The end of the track takes you to the coal dumping site.
Our driver sat and waited for us as we looked around.
View of the coal convener process in its prime.
These contraptions are just coal dumpers that dump the coal into a pit below.
The coal then traveled from the pit on the conveyor belt to another plant near Shifen Station where it could be shipped on the Pingxi Railway.
Era photo of the dumping machine in operation.
The small train station where workers once rested.
Our Ama driver was waiting for us the whole time. She said we could not go any further down the trail because it was too dangerous.
More trains on display I guess for larger tour groups.
Drawing of the small coal trains.
Mounds of coal on display.
Old unused trains in front of the mine.
Entrance to the New Pingxi Mine.
2D map of the mine.
View inside the mine, which is closed off to visitors.
Photos of the mine while in operation.
Carbon monoxide monitors, one for each employee.
What it was like working in a coal mine. Looks hot!
Coal mine workers on the job.
Fake coal mine tunnel on display. This is where you need a flashlight.
More mine objects and photos on display.
Varying types of coal, which was sorted according to lump size, with larger sizes being used for steam engines and smaller sizes used for heating and electricity generation.
Bath house for mine workers after a long hot day. These ones are still full of water...
A small cafe with no one running it.
Self propelled train cart you can play on.
Old entrance to the mine.
Another "One eyed little monk: on display.
"The mining railway was more advanced compared to the Main Line of the passenger railway in Taiwan, When TRA still used steam locomotives for passenger transportation, the mining industry had been using “diesel" and "electric" locomotives. The first electrified mining railway in Taiwan was inaugurated in August 1930 at Jinguashi, Taipei County. The One-eye Monks are the only electric locomotives that are still functional in Taiwan.
The one eye monks were introduced by Taiyang Company and are exclusively preserved in the compound of this museum. Three of the locomotives was procured from Japan and the other three were manufactured by the Jingtong Plantt of the Taiyang Company not functional at the moment.
Life respirator and oxygen supply.
Map of the New Pingxi mine showing how it connects to Shifen station.
Map of major mines and coal deposits in Taiwan.
Another map of New Pingxi Mine.
Satellite image of New Pingxi Mine and Shifen.
"History of Coal Mines in Taiwan"
"According to the history of the coal mines in Taiwan, the industry started from the very first modernized "Qing Mine Shaft" under the reign of the Qing Dynasty of China, followed by the modernization of mining industry in the Japanese colonial period, and finally blossomed and gave birth to the glorious days of the post-war mining industry. Nevertheless, the coal mines in Taiwan were no match in the face of the plunging coal price on the international market then and closed down one after another after the three major mine disasters in 1984. Today, only New Pingxi Coal Mine Company of New Taipei City remains as the sole company in Taiwan that owns the mining right."
"Coal Mining Memory - Introduction"
"The coal mining industry in Taiwan used the be the driver that pushed for "industrial revolution" from railways to power plants and factories in the "energy revolution" a century ago. Despite coal mine's faded glory, one can never erase the industrial modernization, economic development, and regional culture it has accumulated while introducing the modern industry development and a diversified civic life. Hence, coal mining industry is the source of modern civilization, let alone a heritage of certain industrial culture no one should leave behind..."
Coal mine exhibit and classroom I assume for field trips and tour groups.
Training tunnels for miners. You can put on a hard hat and climb on in! It's dark and narrow in there.
Compressor room used for air powered tools and machines.
Tour group setting off a sky lantern at the museum. If you love the earth, do not set off sky lanterns. They pollute the environment, cause fires, and are a safety hazard if they fall on roads.
If you got down to Shifen Old Street you can see the old coal processing plant that used to be connected to the Shifen Railway, which brought coal in via conveyor belt from New Pingxi Mine.
Also you should check out Shifen Old Street while you are there. For our full blog on Shifen Old Street, click here.
Look at all the garbage caused by sky lanterns. Do not light them and set them off!
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more blogs on the Pingxi Railway coming soon.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working 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.