On February 2nd, Floyd and I had the chance to visit an interesting museum with some other expatriates here. It’s on the site of a large junior high school that was totally destroyed in a major earthquake on September 21, 1999. They’ve reinforced the ruins with steel and concrete to keep them stable, but kept them in their original ruined condition for the museum, which is partly indoors (in new buildings) and partly outdoors.
One of the interesting things is the school’s track, which is right on the Chelungpu Fault Line. One end of the track sank down maybe six or eight feet, which apparently helped scientists study the fault. That’s because the lanes were the exact width required by international track and field standards, so scientists can use the lane markings to measure exactly how and how much the ground moved. The track’s polyurethane (or whatever it’s called) surface has remained in great condition,so it’s easy to see the lines twisted, broken and mangled in the two places where the track fell away to lower ground.
|“I didn’t mean to!”
Anyway, it was an interesting place, though it was scary to see how totalled the buildings were. Fortunately the quake occurred in the middle of the night, otherwise hundreds of students would undoubtedly have been killed. The three-story classrooms were smashed down to about ten feet high in some places, with the bottom floor only about a foot high throughout.