CR Culture

Memorabilia of Hulan-Hailun Railway

Published:2018-09-29

  Hulan - Hailun Railway, which was initially constructed in 1925, was worth mentioning in China’s history of independent construction of railways. It started from Majiachuankou in the north shore of the Songhua River, extending northward to Hailun of today’s Harbin-Bei’an Railway. Although Hulan - Hailun Railway only served for 5 years, it has created a length of indelible history.

  Around 1909, the government of Qing Dynasty envisaged the construction of the Harbin – Heihe Railway in order to resist the Japanese and Russians’ attempts for seizing the right of way and plundering the resources of the Hulan River Basin and the  Xiaoxing’an Mountainsregion in Heilongjiang Province, but the plan was frustrated due to the difficult fund raising. In 1925, Heilongjiang authorities and local merchants carefully devised and determined to raise funds for the construction of Hulan - Hailun Railway. In August 1925, Huhai Railway Co., Ltd. was established in Qiqihar. On September 4, Huhai Railway Engineering Bureau was set up in Songpu Town, with the investment ratio of fifty-fifty between the government and merchants. The government shares were appropriated by the Heilongjiang provincial government, and the merchants shares were paid by Qiqihar Guangxin company. In August 1928, the merchant shares were withdrawn due to a smaller portion. The company became a state-owned company, rather than a limited company.

  On October 26, 1925, Hulan - Hailun Railway commenced construction, which was built and opened in sections. There were 19 stations along the railway, including Majiachuankou, Songpu, Xujia, Hulan, Suihua and Hailun, covering a total length of more than 200km. In February 1927, the railway was opened up to Suihua, and it was officially operated by the end of 1928.

  The Railway Administration Bureau and General Station (Songpu Station) were located in Songpu Town, 4.5 kilometers north of Majiachuankou. Therefore, Songpu Town was home to the Railway Administration Bureau, the staff residence and General Station, while Majiachuankou Town was famous as a commercial port. There was a locomotive depot in the west of the General Station, a general plant and oil depots in the northeast, and the living quarter for employees in the south, where subsidiary organizations, Fulun School, for example, were located.

  The land along the Hulan - Hailun Railway was fertile and abounded with crops such as soybean, sorghum and millet, known as the "path of grains". Trains carried full cars of grains travelling southward from Hailun and Suihua day and night. Some of these grains were shipped via Majiachuankou, passing Songhua River (by carriages in winter) and to Daowai grain station (grain depot); and some were transferred at Miaotaizi Station of the China Eastern Railroad and transported to all stations of the China Eastern Railroad and South Manchuria Railway. During the five years from 1926 to 1930, the annual grain output of Hulan - Hailun Railway reached 500,000 tons, and the total freight revenue reached RMB 12.868 million. It made a great contribution to the transport of agricultural products in the vast areas of Hulan River Basin and in northern part of Heilongjiang. In addition, for tens of thousands of immigrants inside Shanhaiguan Pass, the railway line offered free transport services and contributed to the early development of the Great Northern Wilderness.

  In February 1932, after the Japanese invaders occupied Harbin, they immediately carried out the plan of annexing the Hulan - Hailun Railway and rushed to build the Laha-Harbin Railway and highway and railway combined bridge over Songhua River on Harbin-Bei’an Railway. In March of next year, Hulan - Hailun Railway was taken over by Japan's South Manchuria Railways Co. In December of the same year, highway and railway combined bridge over Songhua River was completed, and the railway was connected with Xujia Station of Hulan - Hailun Railway via the new Songpu Station. During the same period, the Majiachuankou branch line was demolished (bombed out), and Hulan - Hailun Railway was incorporated into Harbin-Bei'an Railway Network.

  At present, the site of the former Huhai Railway Administration, oil depots and Fulun School were still reserved, and were included in the list of non-removable historical relics.

  The pictures in this document were taken by Wang Shuyuan.

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