Saturday, December 28, 2013

The 13 Levels (Shuinandong Smelter)

 After several trips to the Jinguashi area, I finally got around to the 13 Levels. Two other photographers and I went to explore the ruins last Sunday. Jinguashi and Jiufen are full of artifacts and buildings from their mining era, but the Shuinandong Smelter (水湳洞精鍊廠), or 13 Levels (十三層), is one that cannot be missed; it stands on the side of the mountain overlooking the ocean looking like a dystopian fortress of sorts. Its tiered layout is the reason for the name, 13 Levels, even though there is apparently a total of 18 levels.

The 13 Levels was built for refining gold and copper ore during the Japanese Colonial Era.  It was also called the Mine Selection Plant as it was also used in the screening and selection process for high quality ores.  The various levels were for different filtration layers needed for sorting the precious metals from the normal rocks.

Abandoned warehouse
© Photographer: Imagesbykenny | Agency:
Due to gold and copper deposits drying up, mining in this area was no longer economically feasible. Over time this area became popular for tourists. I've written about this in earlier posts on Jinguashi and Jiufen.

Due to the high toxicity of copper refining, Shuinandong Smelter also had one of the world's longest concrete pipeline ventilation systems to carry harmful gases over the mountains without harming the nearby inhabited areas and flora.

Blue steel pillar inside abandoned warehouse
© Photographer: Imagesbykenny | Agency:
The 13 Levels are a perfect monument to how prosperity can falter rapidly.

Abandoned building
© Photographer: Kenneth Paul | Agency:

To learn more about interesting places and sights to visit in Taiwan, check out my list of Places to see in Taiwan

No comments:

Post a Comment