Old Prosperity of Cattle Market in Shanhua
During the period of Dutch ruling, seeing this site a fertile land with streams flowing by, the Dutch sent troops to seize the land of the indigenous settlement called "Bakoloan Community" and then established schools and churches here. The Dutch encouraged the Hans to move to this site to reclaim the agricultural land and grow sugar cane and rice. From then on, Shanhua became prosperous.
When Taiwan was under Qing Dynasty's ruling, this site was named "Wanli Community" for its location at the turn of Zengwen River. Sound traffic network development of that time also created the flourishing period of Shanhua. Cingan Temple, worshipping a No. 1 scholar, the Lord Wunchang, reminded people of a poet Shen Guangwun who once wrote a poem, "Ode to Taiwan." The water inside "Dutch Well" was unique. In Dragon Boat Festival of every year, people respectfully take water out of the well at noon, hoping that the Heavenly Mother gives peace to the people of Shanhua all year round. On this special day, the square in front of Cingan Temple became an important site of business activities.
During Japanese ruling, the Japanese merged the Sugar Department to establish Wanli Sugar Making Factory of Taiwan Sugar Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Due to technical advancement, sugar manufacturing industry became more prosperous. Although the soil of Shanhua was not fertile, the soil's high percentage of clay was suitable for plantation of sweet potatoes or cassavas, which became one of the representative and unique industries of Shanhua. When Taiwan was governed by the Republic of China, Sugar Processing Plant developed the sedimentation technique of cassava flour, which contributed to the establishment of over 50 "flour rooms" on Shanhua Street, and also to the origin of today's 100-year-old ice stores. Gradually, Wanli Street, or "Shanhua Old Street" called by the local people, is currently called Jhongshan Road, which becomes a main road in Shanhua. During the period of Japanese occupation, owing to the auspicious atmosphere brought by the sugar manufacturing industry and cattle market, Baroque-styled street buildings were constructed. This street was also a major passage that brides and bridegrooms must walk on in the early years.
"Shanhua Cattle Market" went through prosperity for a century. According to historical records, on the 2nd, 5th and 8th day of every 10 days, the old farmers living in the neighboring towns brought their well-cared cattle to the market, hoping to achieve good graces from buyers. If they received good prices from selling cattle, they would buy lots of food home and receive warm smiles from their wives and children. The cattle trading market was both interesting and important. The soldiers nearby, before discharging from the army, would come to Shanhua to order a pair of leather shoes that would take 2 months to finish. This practice of customized shoes before discharging from the army became a tradition of the army. Wearing a new pair of shoes to leave the army, the soldier was considered to have passed the tough training and grown up to be a new man. This was a reason for the rise of the shoemaking business in Shanhua. Later on, trading of cattle was forced to stop because of foot-and-mouth disease. Today, the cattle market still exists in Shanhua, but it has become a place for trading different commodities, determined by the needs of local residents and the soldiers of military camps nearby.
Shanhua Historical Street still has stores established one after another. "Shen Guangwun Memorial Hall" was attached to Cingan Temple. Local residents can never forget how the temple has been accompanying them all through these years from toughness to happiness. Through the establishment of the business district and with hardships of the local people, they have retraced the flourishing days of cattle market impressed on their minds. In future, Shanhua Business District will develop towards "cultural tourism," attempting to take cattle market as the theme, historical cultural as the background, and local special products as the tool to attract visitors. We want to see those gorgeous days back and recreate a more prosperous Shanhua Business District.