|The Green Hills of Lanyang / The Geologic Backbone of Yilan|
|Yilan is hemmed in between the Xueshan Mountain Range and the Central Mountain Range. In early times, people made contact with the outside world by wending their way along the ancient mountain roads such as the Longling Historical Trail. Then, in the Japanese Colonial Era, came the Old Caoling Tunnel; now, the Xueshan Tunnel and the Suhua Highway Improvement Project. Improving transport links has changed people’s lives.|
Yilan’s earliest passage through the Xueshan mountains to the outside was the Longling Historic Trail. In the 19th century, the Caoling Trail opened and it remains a popular hiking trail today. Caoling (“grassy peak”) is named for its lush Silvergrass. Along the trail are two boulders carved with Chinese characters by Liu Ming Deng, Qing Dynasty commander; one translates as “tiger”, the other “boldly quell the violent wind”, in reference to the windy conditions and noxious air that made passage along Caoling dangerous.
The Xueshan Tunnel, which takes its name from the Xueshan Mountain Range through which it runs, connects Taipei to Yilan. At 12.9 kilometers long, it is the fifth longest tunnel in the world and the longest in Southeast Asia. After the tunnel’s completion in 2006, the whole of National Freeway 5 was opened to traffic.
Transport links between Yilan and Hualien began with waterway transportation during the Qing Dynasty. Construction on the Suhua Highway began in the Japanese Colonial Period, and the road has been improved step by step to become what it is today.
The rock formations at Nan'ao are the oldest in Taiwan. Buried deep underground under high temperature and high pressure, this rock exists in a plastic state until it flows upward, cools, and becomes hard. If other rocks fall inside and are wrapped within the plastic igneous rock, they form “xenoliths”, rocks within rocks.