"Hokkaido Heritage" - The Concrete Arches of the Ancient Shihorosen Railway. (Kamishihoro Town)
The Taushubetsu Bridge stretches across the dammed Nukabirako River. Every year the bridge is submerged when the dam is opened, and in January the bridge appears again when the dam is closed and the water level drops. This is how the bridge got it's nickname "The Phantom Bridge." In winter, however, it is possible to walk across the frozen river using snowshoes, so there are tours all year to view the bridge.
The Taushubetsu Bridge is part of the ancient Shihorosen railway which was used to connect the Nukabira and Tokachi areas. Along this path many concrete arches were constructed. The Shihorosen line was opened in 1926 and was used primarily for the transport of agricultural crops and wood resource transport. However, in 1987, with the switch to automobile transportation, the line was closed. The line ran along
Otofukekawa Valley which is why so many bridges were required. These bridges were designed to work in harmony with the beauty of Taisetsuzan National Park and the valley itself, fr this reason concrete arches were chosen. Because of the material used, many of these arches remain today.
Although originally all the arches were set to be dismantled after the line was closed, many local residents felt that these bridges had more to offer and began a preservation movement to save them. In all, 34 bridges have been preserved. Since 1999 the community has worked to develope and promote the bridges as a centerpiece of the area. They created the "Higashi Taisetsu Arch Bridge Association" to help in this effort.
In recent years many footpaths, as well as a railcar system, have been developed to accommodate the many visitors who come every year to view the industrial heritage and nature of the area. There are also several hot springs close by, including "Nukabira Onsen," so fans of hot springs will have a great visit as well.
＜ひがし大雪アーチ橋友の会＞ (Higashi Taisetsu Arch Bridge Association)
＜ひがし大雪自然ガイドセンター＞ (Higashi Taisetsu Nature Guide Center)
＜ぬかびら源泉郷＞ (Nukabira Gensenkyou)
Website: http://www.hokkaidoisan.org/ (Japanese)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hokkaidoisan (Japanese)
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - T・H)
(Photographs provided by NPO法人北海道遺産協議会)