Northern Cross-Island Highway (Provincial Highway 7) starts from Touliao of Daxi District of Taoyuan City, enters Yilan County after Xicun of Fuxing District, and ends at Gongguan of Zhuangwei Township of Yilan County. The total length is 129.7km. It is an important east-west highway in northern Taiwan, passing through Taoyuan City, New Taipei City, and Yilan County. Northern Cross-Island Highway features the unique magnificent landscapes of high mountains, rift valleys, tunnels, and rivers as the important domestic mountain recreation area. The footsteps of travelers and the trend of the times have inspired various theme tours.
The development history of Northern Cross-Island Highway is not only the development history of traffic. It is connected with the ethnic and cultural development in different time and space, covering the traditional Atayal culture, the Japanese colonial culture, and the Han culture of Daxi. With the progress of history, the conflicts and integration of the three cultures have been imprinted on the dozens of settlements along the highway: Sanceng, Touliao, Cihu, Baiji, Sanmin, Zeren, Xiayunping (Habun), Yisheng, Yixing, Luofu (Rahao), Xikou, Gaopo, Dawan, Ronghua (Raga), Kayilan, Lian (Piyaway), Gaoyi (Kauiiland), Sule (Suru, aka Solo), Sanguang, Yeheng, Baling (Balong), Daman, Xuanyuan, Sileng, Xicun (border of Taoyuan City and Yilan County).
Cultural Corridor of Northern Cross-Island Highway
(I) During the Qing Dynasty: Conflicts between the Han and the Indigenous People
Daxi (Dakekeng), as the start of Northern Cross-island Highway, used to be where the Ketagalan and Msbtunux Atayal gathered. In the middle 18th century, the Fujian and Hakka immigrants moved upstream here and caused exchanges and conflicts between the Han and the indigenous people in this area. In 1886, Liu Ming-chuan set up the “Dakekeng General Affairs Office” of “Taiwan Pacification and Reclamation Head Office” to take charge of the camphor resource development at the Dakekeng and Mkgogan areas. Based on the policies of pacification and reclamation of the indigenous people, it also drew the defense line of frontier guards to separate the living areas of the Han and the indigenous people.
(II) Under the Japanese Rule: The Road for Indigenous Management
During the Japanese-ruling period, the Japanese adopted the active policies of indigenous management to exploit the local forests and camphor resources, pushing the defense line of frontier guards farther into the mountains and causing such battles as “Topa Incident” and “Zhentou Mountain Battle” against the local Topa and Msbtunux tribes. The Topa settlement was almost destroyed by the indigenous management, with the remaining more than twenty households relocated at today’s “Xikou Terrace.” After the fierce fights, the Atayal people along the line gradually surrendered. In 1911, the Japanese government built the original defense line of frontier guards into the ancient trail from Taoyuan Jiaoban to Yilan. In 1916, the route of “Jiaoban Sanxing Police Patrol Trail” was officially completed, which was the predecessor of today’s Northern Cross-Island Highway.
Under the guidance of the Japanese, the Atayal people started to divert water to furrow irrigate the rice on the terrace. Henceforth, nomadic farming shifted into sedentary farming. Part of the water channel relics can still be found at the Yeheng and Xikou settlements today.
(III) After World War II: Northern Cross-Island Highway
From 1963, Taiwan Provincial Government, with the help of veterans, spent three years completing the widening work of the original “Jiaobanshan Sanxing Historic Trail” of the Japanese-ruling period. It became today’s Northern Cross-Island Highway with a total length of 92 km from Taoyuan Daxi to Yilan Datong. The major construction included the two suspension bridges, Fuxing Bridge and Baling Bridge, and an arch bridge, Daman Bridge, all of which were the innovative constructions after the restoration of Taiwan at that time.