Salt production has a long history in south Taiwan. It really got going during the Japanese Colonial Period. It continued under the KMT but started to die out in the 1970s and was basically over in the 1980s.
Tainan has the more famous salt areas with the Jingzijiao Wapan Salt Fields 井仔腳瓦盤鹽田 and Qigu Salt Mountain 七股鹽山. However, Kaohsiung does have a few buildings left over from its salt production days. So let’s check them out.
First up is the gun tower in Qieding 茄萣竹滬鹽灘鹽警槍樓. The tower was built in the late 1940s. It is a flat hexagonal building. It is over 8 meters high and would have had a great view of the surrounding area.
So, why the gun tower? Salt was heavily taxed and very expensive. So there was a need to watch the salt fields.
To combat the theft, the KMT government organized the Salt Cops (my name) 台灣省鹽務稅警總隊 to protect their salt monopoly and keep the salt money rolling in. So towers like this were built around Taiwan.
The salt tax was abolished in 1977 and as the salt industry started to end, so did the salt police’s role. In 1982 the remaining salt police were placed into another agency 保二總隊接管. Salt production in Kaohsiung was pretty much over by the late 1980s.
In addition to the gun building, there is also a one-story brick building next to it. It would have been used for administration and housing or rest area for the garrison.
The gun tower now would have a great view of the surrounding fish farms, if we were allowed in.
Next up is the beautiful 烏樹林製鹽株式會社. This company was started by a rich Kaohsiung businessman Chen Jhonghe 陳中和. He started the company in 1910 This office building was completed in 1930. It was the main office for his Wushulin Salt Industry Company.
When the KMT took over they added a couple things.
The old salt fields have turned into Yongan Wetlands永安濕地.
Last up is Yantian Village 永安區鹽田里. This village was built for salt workers from Beimen, Tainan 臺南市北門區. They were brought to Kaohsiung in the 1920s in order to help in salt manufacturing. The village was built for the workers and their families in the early 1930s. The salt industry ended many years ago, but the memories remain on the walls of the old houses.
This area of Kaohsiung is my favorite to bike around in. It’s very flat with little traffic and few stoplights. There are also many small villages and lots of beach coastline to enjoy. So if you are in north Kaohsiung don’t forget to check out the salt history and say hi!