May 2003. VOL.3 ISSUE 5
RIVER RUNNING THROUGH IT: KAOHSIUNG'S LOVE RIVER
By David Oakley
Love River is often considered the soul of Kaohsiung City, and the
painstakingly slow efforts to clean up this waterway can be seen
as recognition of its importance. A ramble along the river's banks,
from Kaohsiung Harbor all the way up to the headwaters, highlights
the role the river has played in the city's development, and reveals
some lesser-known aspects of Kaohsiung's history.
from near the river mouth, one can head inland along the pleasantly-shaded
west bank promenade, with its coffee shops, bars and fine large
trees, past the Municipal Film Archives and YenCheng Junior High
School. During the Vietnam War, the old Grand Hotel and US Officers'
Club were sited on what is now the school¡¦s campus.
the school, the promenade opens up onto RenAi Park. This patch
of green replaced a charming Chinese-style park destroyed
when the YenCheng Underground Shopping Mall burnt out beneath
money has been lavished on the banks of the river hereabouts;
as a result, the area is very pleasant. Here one can admire
JungJeng Bridge. To fully appreciate the beauty of this structure,
look at its underside.
what of the water that flows in the river? Strolling on past
the old red-light district of Fubei, and over the ChiShian
Bridge, the answer becomes clearer.
between ChiShian Junior High School and the Carrefour Hypermarket
is a massive floodgate. The floodgate isolates the lower stretch
of the Love River, in effect making it part of the harbor waters.
held back by the floodgate is pumped off to a sewage treatment center
on ChiJin Island, then discharged into the Taiwan Strait. However,
during the summer when it rains heavily, the barriers and pumping
stations are sometimes overwhelmed. City officials are forced to
open the gate and release polluted water into the lower Love River.
barrier beside Carrefour blocks one of the most historic branches
of the Love River. Today named the No. 2 Canal, older residents
know it as the TaKang Creek. This is where Qing Dynasty junks
moored during trade with the TaKangPu neighborhood. The historical
and economic importance of this area is reflected by the Sanfengkung
Temple, the dry foods market, and the proximity of Kaohsiung
the opposite bank, and just below the new JianGuo Bridge,
is the mouth of the HouBi Channel. Nowadays an insignificant
covered ditch, this channel was originally the second mouth
of the Love River.
the Japanese developed YenCheng, this waterway served as a tidally
flushing drain. Its course may be tracked between LaiNan Street
and ChiShian Road. Directly above this concreted-over stream are
markets which offer an incredible variety of very Taiwanese specialties
JianGuo Bridge the river passes two old industrial sites. On the
right is the old Tan Eng Brickworks with its soaring twin chimneys
dating back to 1913. On the left is the GuShan Canal, which leads
under the railway lines to the now-silent cement works that fed
off the limestone of Ape Hill until a few years ago.
river used to be navigable up to about Wenzao Usuline College of
Languages. In Japanese times huge wooden barges were poled upriver
to be laden with the red soil of FuTingChin. This soil was used
to produce the water-resistant cement needed to develop Kaohsiung
below the ChihPing Barrier, which blocks the main waterway,
is a little park where locals bring their caged birds to sing.
This gently arcing section of the river strikes visitors as
having great potential. However, the old LungShui dock--where
ferry passengers would disembark en route to the old county
capital in what is now TzuoYing--is today a dusty site awaiting
LungShui, a second harbor used to exist near the BoAi Road
Bridge, within SanMin No.1 Park. The authorities are currently
reconstructing the cycle paths that run on both sides of the
river for several kilometers.
harbor¡¦s name was Mullet Harbor, since fish used to spawn here
at the limit of the tidal reach. Mullet can no longer reach this
point, but sometimes they can be seen trying to run up the river
as far as the barrier.
the source of the river is not easy. The river was first developed
as a canal to drain off several large wetland areas, so that settlers
could grow rice and other crops. The highest of these wetlands is
in PaKuaLiao, a village lying just inside Kaohsiung County. This
area is considered the source of the river, although with the construction
of a canal linking the area with the Kaoping River, that is perhaps
no longer true.
of the original wetlands still exist, albeit massively degraded.
Others have morphed into recreational bodies of water, such as Lotus
Lake and ChengChing Lake.
a large pond until the 1940s, was filled in during the 1960s.
With the virtual disappearance of the sugar and woodworking
industries, the city government seized the opportunity to
develop the area. The Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts has been
built here surrounded by a park carefully planned to reflect
its wetland past.
of run-off from farmers¡¦ fields, run-off from household drains
and septic tanks now flows into the river. This is why cleaning
up the river is a such a difficult undertaking.
and English-language information about the Love River can
be found at www.loveriver.info