Some (collected) images from the (very hard to find) Beitang and the (more accessible) Taku (Dagu) Forts, near Tianjin, at the mouth of the Hai River. They are famous fortifications which served to guard the cities of Tianjin and Beijing during the Qing period. They were attacked a number of times by invading allied troops, in 1860, and then again in 1900. Felice Beato created a visual account of the first (1860) military engagement with the Chinese troops manning the forts (see "Of Battle and Beauty", Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1999) for example.
These are photographs I took in 2004 (up close, overlooking the forts and the new Tianjin port), and then again in June 2006 (a series of four, from a distance). The forts are designated by Chinese authorities as a national heritage site, and the small exhibit hall has much interesting material on their history and inner workings.
In a remote corner of the museum's compound I came across Thomas Strong's grave stone. I don't know who he was, but he was obviously killed while fighting to come ashore, probably in the encounter of 1900. This is an interesting find, since all cemetaries with the graves of foreigners having lived in Tianjin or having fought and died there are long destroyed. Mr. Strong's hidden grave stone may be the last and only such artefact left over from this period.
Note that the topography has changed over time: the Forts are no longer situated exactly above or adjacent to the Hai River, nor are they really within striking distance from the (retreated) shores of the Binhai Sea.
Uploaded July 23, 2006. Added to and modifiied Nov. 30, 2006.
Thomas H. Hahn, Ithaca, NY
© Thomas H. Hahn Docu-Images