Situated 15kilometers north of Hanzhong City, the Shimen (Stone Gate) Ancient Plank Road Scenic Area in Hedongdian Town, Hantai District converges the plank road culture, the culture of ancient Bao Kingdom (1600B.C.-475B.C.), water culture, historical and cultural tourism resources of the Han dynasties (206B.C.-220A.D.) and the Three Kingdoms Period (220A.D.-280A.D.).
Multitudinous national tourism resources in the scenic area:
Shimen (Stone Gate), the world’s first man-made traffic tunnel;
The remains of the Baogukou-Xieyuguan plank road, the third architectural wonders paralleled with the Great Wall and the Grand Canal in ancient China;
The Sanheyan (Three River Dam) Site, water conservancy project in ancient China paralleled with the Dujiangyan Dam and the Zhengguo Canal;
The birthplace of the Shimen 13 Cliff Inscriptions, the national treasures;
The hometown of Baosi, one of the stunning beauties in ancient China;
The starting point of the Han Empire;
Venues for well-known historical events: Cao Cao’s Writing “Gun Xue”, Beheading of Yang Xiu, Pretending to build the plank roads while secretly going via Chencang, Zhuge Liang’s six military campaigns from Mount Qishan, and Xiao He Chasing after Han Xin in Moonlight.
Shimen Dam, the highest double-arched concrete dam built in the 1970s in China;
The picturesque peaks and jagged rocks along the river formed the fantastic sights as summarized by Wang Wanxiang, a Qing Dynasty writer as the 24 Beautiful Scenes of the Baogu Valley”
The Shimen (Stone Gate) Ancient Plank Road Scenic Area is an ideal tourist destination for Chinese plank road culture.
Acclaimed as “the ninth wonder of the world” and a great achievement in the history of transportation, the plank roads were built against steep cliffs. Builders installed timber structures directly into the rock, creating roads paved with wooden planks for transportation in deep mountains and valleys in ancient times.
The plank roads connecting Sichuan Province and Shaanxi Province were first built in the Warring States Period (475B.C.-221B.C.), and became very busy during the Qin (221B.C.-206B.C.) and Han dynasties (206B.C.-220A.D.). The most famous part of the road was the Baogukou-Xieyuguan plank road, which started in Baogukou Valley in Hanzhong City in the south and ended in Xieyuguan in Meixian County in the north, extending over 235 kilometers. This part of the road was the popular route from Hanzhong City to Sichuan Province and Chongqing areas for merchants as well as troops. Therefore, there were once posts every five li, pavilions every ten li and stations every thirty li. Because it was the most convenient and smooth plank road that was used for the longest time, and the most typical plank of its kind, the Baogukou-Xieyuguan plank road was acclaimed as “the Champion of plank roads to Sichuan Province.” The opening of the Baogukou -Xieyuguan plank road had promoted the economic and cultural development in Sichuan and Chongqing area by connecting the central areas with the southwest regions of China. It also had had significant impacts on ancient China in such fields as politics, military, culture, transportation, trade and commerce, and architecture; it also provided mail station services. Mao Yisheng, the well-known Chinese architect, regards the ancient plank roads, the Great Wall and the Grand Canal as three wonders of ancient China.
The 1.8 kilometer long Shimen plank road was built 70 meters above the remains of the Baogukou-Xieyuguan plank road, which combined the seven types of ancient plank roads, stone gate, posts, pavilions and mailing stations. The Shimen Ancient Plank Road has become not only a symbol of the bravery, diligence and wisdom of the Hanzhong people for its rich culture and difficulty in construction, but also the most famous tourist attraction and cultural symbol of Hanzhong City.
The seven types of roads were planks built with horizontal beams and standing posts, slanting support struts, trestle structures along the sloping cliffs, thousands beams without posts, stone stacks, roof-covered multi-stored horizontal beams and recessed structures.
About 3000 years ago in the ancient Bao Kingdom, there was a small town named Baosipu 9 kilometers from the Shimen Dam and it was the home village of Baosi, the first beauty in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046B.C.-771B.C.). As a ducal state, the Bao Kingdom should pay tribute to the Zhou, but it failed. The angry King You of the Zhou launched attacks to the Bao Kingdom.
As a result of conciliation for peace, the Bao Kingdom gave Baosi to King You as a tribute. However, Baosi was known as a cold beauty and seldom smiled and King You tried many ways to make her smile but failed. Historic events known as “the most expensive smile” and “making fun with the beacon towers” were the most tragic and ridiculous stories related to the King and the beauty in history.