Special Exhibition of Coal Mines in Miaoli’s Hakka Villages

The Miaoli area is rich in coal resources and is one of the regions in Taiwan with abundant self-produced energy resources. During the 1950s and 1960s, when Taiwan's industrialization took off, coal-fired power plants gradually became the mainstay of power generation, with coal being an important primary energy source that provided heating energy for brick and porcelain industries in Miaoli. However, after fuel costs fell in 1968, the first world energy crisis in 1974, and three major mining disasters in 1984, these coal mines gradually ceased operations. After all these mines were shut down, Miaoli's coal industry finally entered into history in 1995.

Special Exhibition of Coal Mines in Miaoli’s Hakka Villages

Working in a mine is a memory shared by many elders in the hilly Hakka villages. Now that the mines have been shut down, it is hard for the younger generation to know what happened at that time. This special exhibition displays photos taken from 1936 to 1994. Through these precious old photos, we can get a glimpse of the once glorious mining industry.

Mining communities

Coal mines were once an important pillar of Taiwan's economy, and the sweat the miners shed there had provided income for countless families. Through the bits and pieces of the mines recorded by the lens, we can see the various unremitting efforts made by the ancestors of Hakka villages for their families under the difficult circumstances.

The interior of the exhibition 1

The Township of Coal Mines── Nanzhuang

The coal mines in Nanzhuang Township of Miaoli are rich in reserves and high in quality. The coal industry began to develop during the Japanese colonial era and it was a very important coal-producing town in Taiwan. At the peak of coal mining, the number of miners in the Nanzhuang area exceeded 10,000, and the miners also brought a large number of family members, making Nanzhuang a very lively and busy town.

Hometown of Oil Mines--Chuhuangkeng

Located in the south of Gongguan Township, Miaoli County, "Chuhuangkeng" was the first place where oil and gas were discovered in Taiwan. It was in Chuhuangkeng that the first oil well in Asia was drilled in 1861. During the late Qing Dynasty, Miaoli’s oil and gas production even triggered the coveting of British and American powers. It reached the peak of oil production during the period of Japanese rule (1895-1945). At present, the Chuhuangkeng oil and gas field is still being drilled and developed, and it can be said to be one of the oldest oil fields in the world that are still in production.

Life in the Mining Areas

With the decline of the mining areas, the hardship and bitterness of working in deep mines got buried in the memories of the old miners. Working in a mine is perilous and miners rarely see any daylight. In addition to having to face the possibility of losing their life every time they entered the pit, and not knowing whether they would be lucky enough to come out alive, miners also must endure the unimaginable high temperature caused by geothermal heat, the dirty air and environment, as well as the many risks of occupational diseases. Therefore, mining areas have their special work style, beliefs, taboos and culture. This exhibition sheds light on the details of what it was like to work in the mining area, while also showing different aspects of the life of early miners.

The interior of the exhibition 2