[An old friend: BK24, the steam locomotive that had served Tamsui Railroad faithfully between 1901 and 1954; now on display on Guan-Fu Campus of National Cheng-Kung University.]
Tamsui Railroad opened for business in 1901. It was a one-hour ride between Tamsui and Taipei enjoyed by generations of Tamsui-lang until 1988 when it was demolished to make way for the Taipei Metro. It had the same gauge [1,067mm] as the rest of the Taiwan Railroad system; although the steel rails were lighter in weight that could not support regular locomotives. A less powerful and smaller Model BK24 [the Columbia, manufactured by Japan Steam Engine Co in 1901] therefore must be used which was also the only locomotive that could fit comfortably into the Guan-du Tunnel [關渡隧道]. Therein, however, lied the problem: since the tunnel, sitting next to the Guan-du Station, was situated at the top of a slow slope, the train often must back up a short distance to literally gather steam before charging uphill into the tunnel. There was also a very steep curve immediately after the tunnel. The centrifugal force was fun for most boys, heart-stopping for others. People were known to mutter prayers during this part of the train ride. And our regular contributor ChoSan still remembers the ritual of passengers having to close the windows when the train was inside the tunnel. The dense soot-rich dusty smoke from the coal-fired steam engine was quite over-powering indeed.
Here are maps from before (made in 1921-28) and now (from Google maps today), both showing the sharp bend of the railway and, in the area below the bend, the Guan-du Gorge, where the Keelung River and the Tamsui River merge. The gorge was widened in 1964 to facilitate the water flow especially during the typhoon season:
After the sharp bend, now there is the Guan-du Bridge, built in 1980-83. The engineers had used a labor-saving technique, the 潮汐施工法, i.e., large pieces of the columns were dragged to the construction site at high tide, and lowered/fitted into place, almost automatically, when the water receded at low tide. A bit beyond the bridge, the riverbed apparently drops resulting in the white rapids. While the bridge connects Bali with the eastern shore of Tamsui River, the east end also loops into the bottleneck of the highway to Tamsui. Most travelers now take the well-run Taipei MRT Tamsui Line, just like in the olden railroad days, instead of driving.