Feature

A tunnel that brought the world to a village

A sightseeing bus travels through the tunnel that connects Guoliang Village in Henan Province to the outside world.

A sightseeing bus travels through the tunnel that connects Guoliang Village in Henan Province to the outside world.

An aerial view of the winding mountain road that leads to the cliff tunnel

An aerial view of the winding mountain road that leads to the cliff tunnel

Guoliang Village resident Shen Xiangrui shows a picture of her in 1975.

Guoliang Village resident Shen Xiangrui shows a picture of her in 1975.

A tourist admires the cliff tunnel that was made purely by hand by Guoliang Village residents.

A tourist admires the cliff tunnel that was made purely by hand by Guoliang Village residents.

Shen Qingmin (left), a Guoliang Village resident, shows visitors the tools used 45 years ago during tunnel-building.

Shen Qingmin (left), a Guoliang Village resident, shows visitors the tools used 45 years ago during tunnel-building.

Tourists enjoy a grand view of Hongyan Canyon from a sightseeing stand in Guoliang Village.

Tourists enjoy a grand view of Hongyan Canyon from a sightseeing stand in Guoliang Village.

FORTY-FIVE years ago in 1972, the residents of Guoliang Village in Henan Province began an emotional five-year journey carving a 1,250-meter cliff tunnel by hand.

About 300 meters up Taihang Mountain, a huge cliff of about 2,000 meters separated the village from the outside world. It was completely cut off from the rest of civilization, with supplies, electricity and communication being major problems.

No longer able to tolerate this degree of poverty, a group of 13 villagers — led by Shen Mingxin — sold their livestock in exchange for tools and construction materials, embracing this project as a way to connect to the vast world beyond.

The tunnel, 5 meters high and 4 meters wide, opened to traffic on May 1, 1977, its creation transforming the village into a tourist attraction.

At one stage during building, progress was only 1 meter every three days.

Despite being both arduous and dangerous, Guoliang Village has now formed a new cultural identity by becoming a national film and art base. Labelled as “the road that does not tolerate any mistakes,” it was this cliff road that forever changed the spiritual and economic fate of Guoliang Village.

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