Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Guoliang Tunnel

This tunnel is located in the Taihang Mountains which are situated in the Hunan Province of China.

There is an interesting story behind its development. Before 1972, access to the nearby Guoliang village was limited to a very difficult path carved into the mountainside. The village was nestled in a valley surrounded by towering mountains. It was basically cut off from civilization.

1972, a group of desperate villagers decided to take matters into their own hands – they would carve a road right into the side of the mountain by themselves! Shen Mingxin was the head of the village. He insisted that the villagers needed to embrace this project.

So they sold goats and herbs to buy hammers and steel tools. Thirteen strong villagers began the project. It took them five years to finish the 1,200-metre-long tunnel (a little less than a mile) which is about 5 meters high (15 ft) and 4 meters (12 ft) wide.

Not only was the project arduous, it was also dangerous. Some of the villagers died in accidents during construction. Undaunted, the others continued. On May 1, 1977, the tunnel was opened to traffic.. .
There are more than thirty windows. One article suggested they carved windows mainly as a way to push the rubble out.

In the picture above on the right you can see a rubble pile. Another reason for the windows might have been the need for light due to lack of electricity! After all, this was a remote village cut off from the world.
Believe it or not, this story has a very happy ending. The villagers incredible gamble paid off in a big way. At the turn of the century, China began to open its borders to the rest of the world. It was decided the benefits of tourism outweighed the disruption of having outsiders tromping around the country. So government officials visited this area and decided it was a perfect tourist attraction. Suddenly the little village that had been cut off from the world had thousands of visitors from every part of the world!

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