At 9:30AM on Oct 8, 1884, five companies of French fusiliers marins landed on Sha-Lun Beach and began their ill-fated 4-hour assault on Tamsui. The defeat cost the French 17 lives and 49 wounded. [For more, see here.]
During the Japanese Colonial era (1895-1945), Sha-Lun beach was developed into 淡水海水浴場, a popular summer spot for both the visitors and the locals. There was a rest house as well as a concession stand, the latter run by Miss Asano Ta'z (originally from Hiroshima, repatriated in March, 1946):
[Source: http://taipics.com/taipei_danshui.php]The Phys Ed of Tansui Public School also included visits to the beach accompanied by the teachers (and sumo lessons):
This area was declared off-limits to the civilians under the martial law (1949-1987). In the 1950s, it was used as a training ground and launching point for agents sent to Mainland China to carry out secret missions. In 1959, part of the beach was also opened to American military advisers and their families.
In 1974, the beach was finally re-opened to the general public as 淡水沙崙海灘. Unfortunately, owing to poor management and worsening water pollution, it was closed for good in 1999. Direct access to the beach was also shut off with barriers erected and the gates locked. People, however, still find ways of entering the area. They wade or even swim in the polluted water despite warning signs posted everywhere. Because of the unpredictable tidal waves, rip currents, hidden undersea pitfalls, and a sharp drop of seabed off the beach, sometimes the unlucky ones got trapped and tragically drowned. There have been a number of drowning incidences resulting in 17 deaths since 1999, including two Shihpei middle school students only last year. The most recent incident occurred on July 13 when 8 of a group of 12 middle school students went into the water, one died of injuries and 3 were swept out to sea and perished. Yet another, who survived the ordeal, also passed away later in the hospital.
Even earlier, on Sept 26, 1982, two soldiers in training lost their lives while trying to rescue a swimmer who, tragically, was also lost. All for nothing. The soldiers received posthumous commendations of valor from the Gov't: