Formerly the Taiwan Daxueshan Forestry Corporation founded to make use of Daxueshan’s forest resources, the Dongshih Forestry Culture Park possessed the biggest 1960s-era lumber factory in East Asia. The first Taiwanese site to introduce American-style logging operations and factory processes from start to finish, it served as a paradigmatic example of the Taiwanese forestry industry. The company mainly sold wood to piano and furniture makers and wood shops in Fengyuan, Houli and Dongshih, and hence also provided impetus for the prosperity of Taichung’s mountain towns.
Daxueshan Forest Area, full of primary forests, was first built in 1956 in the aftermath of Taiwan’s Retrocession in 1945 by the nationalist government. Then, in 1960, the Taiwan Daxueshan Forestry Corporation was further established to collaborate with the US government who provided funds and assistance. The US government recommended an American machinery and tooling system, and advised use of trucks rather than forest railways to freight lumber, to increase the forest area’s efficiency and output. The total area of the lumber processing compound is around 28 hectares, with a staff count of 275 at peak. Again, at that time, Daxueshan Forest Area was the most advanced and largest lumber processing site in East Asia. Yet in 1973 it became clear that the machinery and tooling system were not best suited to Taiwanese logs, and the significant wastage of forest trees led to the ceasing of operations. In the following year, the site was reincorporated into the Forestry Bureau’s Daxueshan Forest District Demonstration Office. In 1988 the landlord of the factory site asked for the site to be returned. To preserve the history and the ecology of this precious forest industry, the Forestry Bureau undertook a plan to turn the site into a forestry museum so that the entire population could enjoy it together.
The factory site retains many historical vestiges of the wood industry, such as lumber works, general offices, and wooden dormitories, unlike other industry sites that lack such resources. In 2004, a plan was unveiled to create the Dongshih Forestry Culture Park. Yet misfortune struck on the 13th of May, 2006 as fire destroyed more than half of Daxueshan’s expansive lumber works and inflicted serious damage on the site. After a review of options by the Forestry Bureau, related organizations, and local public figures, important lumber works facilities such as the surviving wood barns, boiler rooms, fuel storehouses and large-scale machinery and tooling became targets for reconstruction under a plan to protect the ruins and bring them back in for original use. To bring about a rebirth of the forestry industry, it was necessary to not only perpetuate the past, but also to transform it into a new kind of creative industry. On the 24th of December 2014, in accordance with the Act for Promotion of Private Participation in Infrastructure Projects, the Executive Yuan ratified the development of a plan for the local area to attract private investment through a BOT (built-operate transfer) investment model.