The Lofty Mountains, the Vast Plains—the Great Wall Culture

  • offcial website of Beijing Expo 2019 2016-06-06 09:58:50

Beijing-Zhangjiakou Railway—a Living Fossil of China Railway Industry

Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway starts from Fengtai of Beijing, runs through Juyong Pass, Badaling, Shacheng, Xuanhua, and arrives at Zhangjiakou, more than 200 kilometers long as a total. The railway construction started on September 4, 1905, was completed on August 11, 1909, and was put into use on October 2 in the same year.

The road between Beijing and Zhangjiakou used to be an important post road to the north of Beijing, but is rough and inconvenient for transportation in the section which is 40 li north of Juyong Pass and plays an important role in connecting Mongolia. It had been repaired many times during the late years of Qing Dynasty. In May, 1905, Zhan Tianyou was appointed Chief Engineer of Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway construction. He began his survey along the line right after his appointment. The most difficult problem in selecting railway line is from where Jundu Mountains can be passed through. Zhan Tianyou stepped all over Jundu Mountains and canyons despite of the bitter coldness and the scorching heat of the seasons, and finally he decided on Guangou Line.

In September 1906, the Guangou section of Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway project started to be carried out. There is a very long slope in this section, where the roadbed rises 1 meter every 30 meters and a 1,645-meter-long tunnel is in need. Digging tunnel requires not only experienced engineers and precise measurement, but also new types of moving machines, pumps, ventilators and other equipment. But, there were no such conditions in China at that time. In this circumstance, Zhan Tianyou successfully dug 6 tunnels through Guangou with his consummate skills and cooperation with the workers. On 22 May, 1908, all the Guangou tunnels were dug through. Among them, the Badaling Tunnel, with a length of 1,145 meters, became one of the longest tunnels in the world at that time.

At Tsing Lung Bridge, Zhan Tianyou ingeniously designed the turnout in the shape of “人”( a Chinese character with a meaning of “person”), which helps trains cleverly climb up the steep hill, and saves the work of digging tunnel for more than 2,000 meters. In this invention, Zhan Tianyou adopted shaft construction, creating a miracle in the world history of railway construction.

The Archaeological Site of Nine-Eye Tower Military Camp

There is an open space surrounded by square footstones encircled by a section of the Great Wall, 200 meters west of Nine-Eye Tower. Here used to a military camp of Ming Dynasty. Why didn’t the Nine-Eye Tower soldiers station themselves at the fort but in the Great Wall? For one thing, they would defense in conjunction with defenders in Sihai Town, so that they would be mobilized to support each other; for another, the Nine-Eye Tower, at high altitudes, has a very important strategic position. Besides, the southern slope is too steep to walk along and to build camps on it; thus the defenders and their families had to station outside the edge walls.

The northwest of the military camp used to be an arsenal. Grenade, bombs and other objects were unearthed there. The open space of the southern part indicates that soldiers once lived and practiced there. The total area of the site is about 2,500 square meters, with a capacity of thirty or forty soldiers.

Many dynasties built military camps along the Great Wall, but they usually located the camps inside the Great Wall, and they designed pack-ways beneath; therefore, the transportation is very convenient.

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