Yunnan · Dali · Eryuan
Qiaohou 乔后

Once an important salt-mining town, now the second largest town along the Heihui River north of Yangbi.
Picture: Old stage in a village just south of Qiaohou.
Qiaohou Old Stage: Old stage in a village just south of Qiaohou.

Qiaohou is today a busy market town south of Shaxi, well-connected by a mountain road to the county seat at Eryuan. For centuries, its main industry was salt-mining, with its products being carried all the way to Burma. The salt-mine, at the northern end of town, remains the biggest business in town.

A group of British mining experts, fleeing the upheaval of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, passed from Jianchuan through Qiaohou:

Chow Ho [Qiaohou] looks like a village of 2,000 inhabitants, and is the seat of important salt-works. We found its products as far west as Manwyn [Mangyun], near the border of Burma. For the first time in China we saw rock-salt, a little dark in colour but fairly pure, and entirely soluble, with the exception of a trifling residue of silica. The rock is sawn into blocks of varying sizes convenient for transport and sale. There are also brine wells, the brine being led down in long conduits from the hillside to evaporation works in the village. The firewood for the furnaces is floated down the river, and caught and stacked at the village above Chow Ho. [R. Logan Jack, 1904, p. 188]

Until the 1960s, the rock salt was mined manually and remained a relatively modest operation. However, from the 1960s, the operation was changed to a dissolution technique, where water was pressed into the salt caverns, dissolving the salt, which could then be extracted as a highly concentrated saline solution. This technique allowed much higher extraction rates, but created unpredictable caverns in the salt deposits. In 1989 consequently, the roof of one of the created caverns collapsed leaving a large cylindrical hole in the ground [Yu].

Today, Qiaohou is a pleasant little town with the old market street running just west of the modern street. At it northern end is the town temple, built where once the town stage stood. About a kilometer south, near the bridge over the river, remain the ruins of an old village stage, similar in style to the Shaxi stage, but smaller.

Travel Notes

Limited accommodation in Qiaohou. Transport to Eryuan is quite regular and there are also morning busses to Jianchuan that return in the afternoon. In addition busses between Jianchuan and Yangbi pass through. For cyclists: the road is paved and in good condition with a bit up and down along the river.


Bai Torch Festival 23 Jul 2022

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