Ancient Plank Road

Mountains in the Three Gorges area once wore a special girdle. Looking from afar, the special girdle was laced on the mountains tens of meters above the river. The special girdle was the site of the famous Ancient Plank Road which was measured 50 to 60 kilometers (31-37 miles) long in all, with the notable sections found along the Qutang Gorge and the  Three Little Gorges in the Daning River. Some parts of the plank road were scattered in the Xiling Gorge as well. However, the plank road that had been such a splendor along the Yangtze River consumed by the water when the Three Gorges reservoir was put into full swing. Although the Plank Road was inundated under the water forever, but people still recall its splendid history. Blue print of reconstructing the Qutang sections of the Plank Road is on the way.

The Ancient Plank Road was one of the three mysteries of the Three Gorges region; the other two are the Wild Man, and the Hanging Coffins. People's feelings toward the construction of the Ancient Plank Road are similar to the building of the Great Wall. There are few records of when and how this huge project was built. The reason why the road was built is still unclear. Opinions about the plank road vary from early times until now. The function of the Plank Road along Daning River, in particular, remains controversial; some hold that it was for military use; while others see it as a duct for salt transportation etc.

This is a breathtaking historical site in Three Gorges, and the reputation of the Plank Road matches reality. On the one hand, the Yangtze River provides a powerful network of water highways, but on the other, the dangerous shoals and reefs made cutting the Plank Road a must. Thus ancient people did their best to cut the road out of the cliffs, to offset the problems caused by the river blockages. Difficult as it was, a road of this kind was very common in this area. As far as we know that the earliest record of the road began during the Warring States Period (475 BC-221 BC). It is hard to believe that the laborious excavation was accomplished without the help of the modern equipment. Although being one to two meters wide, the Plank Road was very busy in the old days; some sections could even carry a horse and carriage side by side.

With the development of highways, and the improvement of navigational conditions on the Yangtze River, only hikers were left to use the Plank Road. In order to preserve the remarkable history, the relevant government department has decided to construct Plank Road in the Qutang section, which reveals scenes of temporal work sites from the old ages.

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