A Century-old History of Taiwan's Rail Transport
The term "Hamasen" originates from Japanese, in which it means "shoreline". In the Japanese ruling period, the "shoreline railway" was the southernmost branch line of the Taiwan Western Railway, and was used for transferring commodities stored in the adjacent warehouses of the harbor. About a hundred years ago, to improve the transport in the harbor, the Taiwan Sotokufu (the Japanese government reigning over Taiwan then) built the Takao temporary parking lot at the southernmost tip of the Taiwan Western Railway to serve as a sea-land transfer platform. The result was significant and facilitated future land reclamation, the construction of Takao Harbor, and the development of City, thus laying the foundation for the development of Kaohsiung as a harbor city.
For years, the rise, fall, and revitalization of the local industries were closely connected with the community and people of Hamasen. To the residents in the post-war era, "Hamasen" is more than just a term transliterated from Japanese. Rather, it represents a lifestyle and collective memory, and has become a historic icon. To preserve Hamasen as a valuable asset of the City, a coastal land which underwent the development from the fishery and salt industry, sugar refining industry, heavy industry, and export trade, we built the Hamasen Museum of Taiwan Railway next to the West Side Harbor Line, a branch line previously used for transporting commodities, and present the history of Taiwan's rail transport with unprecedented scale and dynamic exhibitions.
The Hamasen Museum of Taiwan Railway is housed in the Penglai Warehouses of Pier-2 Art Center, which were previously deserted warehouses of Pier-2 of the Port of Kaohsiung. The theme of the Museum focuses on the history of Hamasen. The century-long history of Taiwan's rail transport is also presented by introducing how rail transport became the major form of transport, through exploring such aspects as national defense, politics, the economy, civilization, and industrial needs, and how railways affected the society, industry, economy, and civilization of Taiwan.
Differing from traditional railway exhibitions, the Museum displays models of railways, rails and trains of HO (1:80) scale. With special audiovisual effects, the exhibits present the development of Taiwan's rail transport over the past century. Models of classic passenger and freight trains of different eras, as well as the settings of train stations across Taiwan take visitors back to the past to look back on the development of rail transport and the cities and towns along the railways from the Japanese ruling period to date. Next to the Hamasen Museum of Taiwan Railway, the Takao Railway Museum was previously the Kaohsiung Port Station, which was the first train station of Kaohsiung, the starting point of the southern section of the Taiwan Western Railway, and where the modern civilization of Southern Taiwan originated.
Highlight of Exhibition
In search of a new way to display railway models, the Museum refers to the museums in Europe and the United States that feature railway model exhibitions, and takes characteristics of railway models and perspectives of visitors into consideration. With the well-known Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany, also taken as a reference, the making of the railway models breaks the spatial limit of relative distance and direction, making the arrangement of scale models both reasonable and three-dimensional. In addition, considering the distance which visitors need to appreciate models of such a large scale, the museum uses peninsular- or concave-shaped display bases instead of island-shaped ones, allowing visitors to get closer to the models and appreciate them from different angles. Backgrounds featuring day, night, and dusk views are also used to create a variety of vivid and realistic settings.