Asia Cement Aerial Tramway 亞泥空中纜車

Climbing a cable car tower in Hsinchu County
Climbing a derelict tramway tower in Hsinchu County.

Yesterday I went out with a friend to explore several abandoned and neglected sites in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Our first stop was one of many mothballed cable car 空中纜車 towers in Guanxi connecting a stone quarry near Yùshān Village 玉山里 (formerly known as Chìkēshān 赤柯山) with a cement plant next to Jiǔzàntóu Station 九讚頭車站 in Hengshan. There seems to be no general agreement about the formal name for the system so I’m picking one of many options and dubbing this the Asia Cement Aerial Tramway 亞泥空中纜車 for the sake of simplicity.

Clarence climbs the tramway tower
Clarence climbs the tramway tower.
A tramway tower in Hsinchu County
Heading up the tramway tower.
A loose grip on the way up
A loose grip on the way up.
Tramway tower from below
All the way to the top.

Jiuzantou Station is on the Nèiwān Line 內灣線 (see Chinese Wikipedia for more info), which was originally built in the 1940s and expanded in the 1950s to support the growth of the cement and forestry industries in the area, both of which have fallen into steep decline in recent decades. Much like the historic Píngxī Line 平溪線 in New Taipei, the Neiwan Line has recently seen renewed interest and growing passenger numbers in support of tourism in the region.

Scaling a tramway tower in Hsinchu
On the final approach.
Top of the tramway tower
The ladder narrows.

The same cannot be said for the cable car system, which runs approximately 9.5 kilometers over the rolling hills of rural Hsinchu. From the looks of it the system is still in good shape despite shutting down about a decade ago (although the buckets are still visible in 2009 even if the tramway isn’t moving). This long period of inactivity would suggest that there are more abandoned facilities to be explored along the tramway route, with particular emphasis on the stone quarries at one end and the cement factories at the other1, but that’ll have to wait for another day.

Aerial tramway line in rural Hsinchu
An abandoned aerial tramway line running through the mountains of Hsinchu County.

  1. The Jiuzantou cement plant is still operated by the Asia Cement Corporation 亞洲水泥股份有限公司 but the stone quarry also provided material for a Taiwan Cement 台灣水泥 plant in Zhudong that no longer seems to be in business. 

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