The Red Flag Canal Scenic Area
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The Red Flag Canal Scenic Area (a.k.a. Hongqiqu Scenic Area) is the most spectacular section of the Red Flag Canal. It is located about 20 km north of the town of Linzhou at the northern tip of Henan province. This part of China is quite remote and not as conveniently accessible as most other tourist sites in China. Therefore, the Red Flag Canal Tourism Area is generally not a crowded place to visit apart from a few tour groups that occasionally rush through. Most independent travelers come here on a day trip by bus from Anyang which lies about 80 km away to the southeast. Integrating a visit of the Linzhou area with a visit of Anyang and its Yin Ruins certainly makes sense. However, there are a few other sites worth seeing near the Red Flag Canal Scenic Area that you will find listed on this website. Staying for 1 or 2 nights in the Linzhou area might therefore be a better alternative for travelers that want to see all the sights without rushing.
During the Great Leap Forward era of the People's Republic of China in the 1960's, many large labour projects were undertaken that required the mass mobilisation of workers. The building of the Red Flag Canal was one such project that was initiated in order to provide irrigation for the fields of the Linzhou district. That area often suffered from droughts prior to the building of the canal. Construction of the canal that diverts water from the Zhuozhang River was started on the 10th of February 1960 with an initial workforce of 100,000 people. However, the workforce was soon reduced to 30,000 due to logistical difficulties. Work on the main channel was completed on the 5th of April 1965 and the three main trunk canals were finished the following year.
All the backbreaking work in carving the 71 km long main channel (which is 4.3 meters deep and 8 meters wide) out of the rocky ground at the side of the Taihang mountains was done manually. No heavy machinery was used! Laborers instead worked with dynamite, long steel chisels and heavy sledge hammers. When working with dynamite, brave workers lit the fuses manually while dangling from ropes at the sides of the cliff. They would then be quickly hoisted to safety by their colleagues pulling on the ropes. All the debris had to be carried away by hand in baskets hanging on shoulder poles.
In total, the Red Flag Canal measures 1,500 km in length. That includes all its branches that distribute the water from the main channel throughout the region over 36,000 hectares of land. To make this comprehensive irrigation system a reality, 134 tunnels and 150 aqueducts had to be built. When work on the canal was completed, it provided a stable water supply for about 567,000 people. Even though it was initially only scheduled to be used for 20 years, it is still in use today. A committee in Linzhou is currently working on an application to enlist the main channel of the Red Flag Canal on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
At the site of the Red Flag Canal Scenic Area, visitors will see the main channel of the canal flow around a cliff, through tunnels and along the rocky side of the Taihang mountains. This walkable section of the canal starts near the parking lot and continues on for a few short kilometers to the "Youth Cave". It is generally not a very arduous walk but a good basic level of fitness and mobility is nevertheless required. The 623-meter-long "Youth Cave" was one of the main work projects of the Red Flag Canal. The cave is actually a tunnel through which the canal's water continues to flow subterraneously after disappearing from view. It was created through the manual labor of 300 young people that were specifically assigned to this task during the canal's construction phase. In 1973, the Chinese communist leader Guo Moruo inscribed the name "Youth Cave" above the cave entrance.
The Red Flag Canal Museum and Luosi Deep Pool that are included in the 100 Yuan ticket price of the Red Flag Canal Scenic Area are located at different spots in the vicinity (so you will need to take a taxi to get there). The Red Flag Canal Museum was built in the late 1960's at the spot where the canal's main channel is split into 3 trunk channels. The different sections of the museum tell the story of the canal's construction in a personal way by using the real stories of workers that exemplified the spirit of these times. Old black-and-white videos and 210 historic photographs vividly illustrate the hardships and heroism of the canal builders. The Luosi Deep Pool is located at another spot near the canal where a semi-circular waterfall has formed a deep pool at its bottom.