The only steel rail of Qing Dynasty used in our country is still not rusty, and each rail is a priceless treasure.
As we all know, everything in China can have a story. So today we're going to focus on a very special thing to explore its history, which is train tracks. When I first saw this, it might be a little tricky. Let me explain to you that these are railroad tracks when train is moving.
To study its history, we must study history of steel production in China. Focusing on a steel rail in a small mountainous area, let's go back hundreds of years to see how this steel was made in finished form?
(1) History of Steel
Actually, use and discovery of metal elements such as iron in my country began as early as Confucian period, that is, during Spring and Autumn period. But it is a pity that China never used such a precious thing as iron to produce it as a form of steel, and did not invest it in heavy industry.
Industrial buildings and houses at that time were still made of wood. They only use iron as a metal to make jewelry, ornaments, and improve medicines. In ancient times, many emperors hired many alchemists to make medicines for them because they wanted to become immortal. The so-called immortality pills they made contained too many metallic elements that people could suddenly die from.
It is therefore very unfortunate that during period of feudal society, China did not realize importance of iron, metal, and allowed it to be abandoned for thousands of years. The material steel entered China at end of feudal society. Under tough attitude of great powers of time, Qing government was forced to open up country and allow great powers to import many goods, including steel.
The rulers really understood that steel is a very hard material suitable for use in construction and industry. However, China cannot master core technology, so it has to buy a large amount of steel from foreign countries every year, and entire domestic market is monopolized by foreign countries.
(2) Hanyang Iron Works
At end of Qing Dynasty, many people tried to find a way to save country and people. Among them is Zhang Zhidong, main character we'll talk about today. He is an important representative of reformist party, advocated saving country through industry, and set up Hanyang Iron and Steel Works. This is something we can learn from our junior high school history textbooks, but our history didn't tell us very much that Zhang Zhidong's establishment of Hanyang Iron and Steel Works actually went through a very harrowing process.
First of all, when he came up with this idea, he wrote to emperor to put it into practice. But emperor was rather stupid and kept silent about it all time, finally, with his active efforts, he had already entered the stage of choosing a place where it could be established.
He chose Guangzhou as his initial address, but his older brother Li Hongzhang opposed it. In desperation, he spent another two years moving site to Wuhan, Hubei Province.
He even took initiative to apply for a transfer to south to work and, by way, built his own Hanyang Iron Works. After settling in Wuhan, it took three years to build main facilities and start investing in research phase.
But because China can't master core technology, it took nearly three years to learn different processes and technologies before it could basically complete all important steelmaking processes.
Only at beginning of last century, Hanyang Iron Works basically mastered technology of melting and pressing cast iron mined in mines to finally form steel that can be used directly.
(3) Railway construction
When technology became successful, whole country was shocked. Just in time for infrastructure construction in China, Qing government overhauled railways throughout country. Therefore, Hanyang Steel Works began to produce rails suitable for railways.
At that time, although China's production did not account for 1% of foreign imports to China, it still broke situation when Chinese market was completely divided by chaotic forces, and began to take its place. Many of these railroads were destroyed during war, but many still survive.
Recently, because railroad workers discovered that words "Made in Hanyang Iron Works in 1903" were indistinctly engraved on railroad tracks in a mountainous region. I was shocked, for a hundred years not only there is no rust, but also traces of damage.
You can see how good quality was when it was made. This case was also confirmed by relevant museums, we also learned from employees that there are many such railway tracks in museum collections, and all of them carry a period of history.
At that time, Zhang Zhidong had a famous saying: "If Hanyang Iron Works can produce a little more, Chinese can spend a penny less, and China's wealth will be saved a penny less." deep and expresses deep love of a patriotic entrepreneur for Motherland.
It is thanks to their generation that China can have beauty it has today. If everyone at that time were indifferent, no one knows where this society will go.
If you're reading this passage and you feel drawn to some connection, you can visit relevant museums in Wuhan, Hubei, or even old ironworks site, but there's nothing to do with buildings of Qing Dynasty.