Images of Taiwan Railways

steam train in Taiwan 1955 — photo from Images of Taiwan GIO

Steam train, Taiwan, 1955 

While searching for some photos of old trains for a presentation I found the Taiwan Image Audio-Visual Archive. The website was made by Taiwan's Government Information Office.

All the images on the site are available for licencing and are free for non-commercial use. I have taken a few photos directly from the site for this blog post and they have a watermark on them. There is also a film archive on the website. Some of the links there were broken though.

narrow gauge sugar train in Taiwan — photo from Images of Taiwan GIO

Narrow gauge train for transporting sugar, Taiwan, 1959 

It seems most of the old photos are from the 1950s and 1960s. It is a pity there aren't more photos from the Japanese era. However, you can still observe from the photos that Taiwan has changed enormously in the last 50 years.  

In my search for old photos of trains I did find some more sites. Citycat's Railway Website has many photos of all kinds of trains. There are a few photos from the Japanese era and also many photos of historical sites in more recent times. Taiwan Railways in English contains photos and short videos of trains from all over Taiwan. There is also a Taiwan Railway group at flickr. 

6 thoughts on “Images of Taiwan Railways

  1. Some irony here-as much as I love trains I think I’ve only ridden 1 or 2 times in my 20 years here. Did more than that on last trip to Japan.

  2. Hi David,
    That audio visual photo/film archive is a nice find. It is a good start for Taiwan to finally put together a photo archive.

    After spending some time digging through the photos though, I was disappointed with the site for several reasons.

    Although there are several interesting photos, most are pretty boring. (in the history section, anyway). I wonder, out of the millions of photos there must be of Taiwan, who picked the ones on the site? For example in the history/city streets section, there are only about 40 photos. There are a few buildings photos, but for the most part, it doesn’t mention what street/city the buildings are on. Someone should have done some research to make the site more interesting. (let alone, put up hundreds of photos, not just a handful). I would have also made the photo thumbnail part bigger than the commentary part.

    Another example in the history archive section: I did a search on US Military (also MAAG). The only pictures posted were a few photos Yangminshan officers quarters, a few photos of the Maag compound when it got flooded one year and a few photos of when the US Embassy got sacked by the KMT in 1957 (ironically in a directory called USAid). The US Military was here for almost 40 years, but its not part of Taiwan history? Go figure. I know this topic only interests a few people, but it should be covered by the GIO in the historical archives since it was a big part of their national development.

    BTW: For history buffs, I did learn something new, kittycorner to the Presidential building, there stood the main building for USAID called the “Union Building”. There are several photos of the building and the area back in the mid ’60s. (search USAID)

    4. The watermark is not necessary, in fact it destroys all the images. The internet is about sharing info, so the GIO shouldn’t worry about people copying pictures (especially smaller images of large photos). In fact the more photos there are on Taiwan in the net cloud, the better for people to understand what this place is about.

    5. The GIO should pay for an easier to find and remember domain name. I have one in mind that is perfect..(!) Actually, they can easily have two domain names, the govt one and one that is easy to remember and promote. Cost for domain name is only NT$300 per year, its cheap – but probably something they never thought of.

    6. I can mention the webgraphics on the site look to me to be a bit fuzzy and not well made. (navigation bar, page grounds, even the logo). I know this sounds nitpicky, but its something that is part of my impression of the site. I’d like to see it look sharper.

    Lastly, I have over 1600 organized, old photos of Taiwan that I have offered to donate for free to the Taipei city archive, the National History Museum, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Academica Sinca and a few other places (except the GIO, I didn’t think of them before, but I will email later). I have even offered to design a nice photo gallery website for them free, but no one has took me up on my offer. C’est la Vie ~ a lose for Taiwan history, imho. I may post them again at some point, maybe flickr, or maybe someone would like to sponsor a cool Taiwan vintage image gallery?

    Cost is only about NT$3000 per year, that’s it. I will donate the photos and programming code. I just don’t want to pay for hosting. Someone could use this as a marketing tool as well. What I mean is that you can put up banner ads, etc. on the site to promote your business. – Just and idea. I rather see these photos online than have them gather dust on my HDD.

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