Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Monday, April 7, 2008

Historic Preservation

I came across this article today and thought it might be of interest to some of you. The Taiwan government has designated Taipei's Yanmingshan Mountain as a cultural landmark. Since I lived in the hostel in 1973-1974, I'm not sure where this is. Please take a look at the article and let me know what you think.

Also, they've done the same thing for the "...dormitories of the US Taiwan Defense Command." What dormitories are those??



Anonymous said...


You might have known it as Grass Mountain. I believe it was northwest of Taipei. STRATCOM had a site on the mountain that housed the Joint Over Seas Switchboard (JOSS) and some other stuff I don't remember. I understand there is a park there now.


Don said...

Thanks, Rick. I think that's also where the old AFNT station (now ICRT) was located, wasn't it?

Bill said...

I remember the area well. There was a similiar area in Tien Mu. The area included the AFNT station, bowling alley, baseball field, tennis courts, and snack bar.
The housing was known as BOT Grass Mtn housing. Much of the housing was many years newer than Tien Mu.
As for the STRATCOM facilities, they were at the very top of Grass Mountain, where as this housing area was at the bottom of the hill.
The STRATCOM facility did include an overseas switchboard, and the home of the communications links to other military facilities on the island and the connection to off island facilities such as Okinawa, Vietnam, and the Phillipines.
Interestingly enough, the communications site is still there, but on a visit I made in 2003 it was off limits and guarded by the Taiwan Army.

Rick said...

Hi Don,

When I was stationed in Taipei in 67-68 the AFNT studios were in the Sugar Building downtown. The telephone exchange was located on the first floor of the building. I don't know if the actual transmitter site was there or not. When I left in 68 there was talk of the building being demolished.

The STRATCOM site was on the top of the mountain. The only thing I remember clearly that was at the base of the mountain was a small citrus orchard on the right side of the road as you were going down the mountain. I would get tangerines there when in season. Funny the things you remember.


Don said...

It seems to me that I once had to drive a van up to Grass Mountain during a typhoon. I don't remember why I was sent or what I did once I got there, but I think it was one of those "go there and stand by" type things. I mainly just remember driving in Taipei traffic in very heavy rain and high winds. I think that may have been the only time I ever drove on the island. What a way to break in!

Misty said...

The BOT housing on Grass Mountain was much nicer than the Tienmu and was laid out more like a typical American suburb. The houses were built for officers and their families. I visited a few in the '70s and was impressed that they had airconditioning.

It's spread about a bit but here are some coordinates to punch into Google Earth.

25° 8'5.73"N

25° 8'15.61"N

The area hasn't developed as much as Tienmu as much of the land is government owned. Plus it's an inconvenient location. Great for a family home but no good for commuting.

Don said...

Misty, thanks very much for identifying the exact locations. I think I once "house sat" for a navy officer up there when he and his family flew to Hong Kong for a few days.

I'm still wondering what they meant by "...dormitories of the US Taiwan Defense Command." My understanding is that all of the old buildings at the HSA east compound were destroyed to make room for the museum and park. It's clear in Google Earth that the both hostels, the exchange, commissary, theater, library, etc., are gone. Is it possible that there are still some old buildings remaining in some area of the site? Perhaps checking that out could be a project for those folks who plan to visit there next year.

Misty said...

Well my understanding was the the the east compound occupied nearly all of the area from Chung Shan Bei Lu right over to where the freeway/flyover is now. Where the large open sewer/benjo was. When you guys left the Chinese military moved in and occupied the site to the east of the east compound. Or perhaps they were there before? I am fuzzy on this.

Don said...

Misty, I think you're right about the overall area. That's pretty much the way I remember it, but after all these years that's hardly a sure thing!

In Google Earth I can see what appear to be several smaller buildings between the art museum and the highway to the east, but I can't determine what they might be.

When I was there ('73-'74) the Chinese military had a small facility just off the left side of the USTDC parking lot. I never went over there about all I know for sure is that they had a ping-pong table over there.

Misty said...

Heads up time. I was browsing and came across a site run by the Taiwan govt. that contains lots of historical photos including some of the Grass Mountain dorms.

Lots of photos here and some to jog your memories. Great shot of the East compound flooded with the Taipei Story house in the background:

Cobrawaltz said...

My name is Scott Kring. I was stationed on Grass Mountain from late 72 to early 75 in Autovon maintance at the DCS station. Yes, I am the one you guys called when you wanted to call home. The Joss was run by Sgt. Stiffy in those days. I lived in Tien Mou right by the movie theater, bowling alley, etc. Looks like I'm a little late finding this IRL but thought I might put in my 2 cents

Don said...

Scott, you should also check out the TDC Facebook group. Just go to the site and request membership and I'll approve it as soon as I see it.


Don Wiggins
TDC Blog and Facebook TDC Group

Don said...

Sorry, Scott, I forgot to include the URL for the Facebook group: