Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hike Leads to Discovery of Taipei's Wellington Heights Homes

On 29 October, I caught the Taipei Metro to Beitou to meet up with an old friend who was visiting Taiwan.  He was also stationed and worked at HSA in the 1960s. 
Ready to head-out, water bottles, hats and comfortable shoes.
We immediately got on our way for a hike around the hills that overlook Beitou.  I'd not hiked any distance for years, but felt good. The sun was shinning, temperature was in the mid 70s, a gentle breeze kept the mosquitoes from bothering us, the foliage was lush green with flowers everywhere. 

We walked onward, upward, the roads seemed to circle the hills until we arrived at a trail head.  The steps where nearly vertical upward, and for the next hour we snaked up the hills, running across old broken down pieces of stone with Chinese characters.  We passed by burial tombs on the side of the trail as we continued our climb upward; passed two families out for a hike, got directions from them as the trail was not marked along the way.  There were numerous smaller trails to the left and right as we hiked, but not knowing where they headed, we remained on the worn main trail.  We reached the top and finally found a sign marker.  We headed downward now, on a trail which apparently was constructed for vehicles to service a large antenna high on a peak overlooking the surrounding valleys. 

We continued walking and soon, ended up at a large Temple and just around the corner a guard shack and office for Wellington Heights Homes.  We were more than halfway up the mountain.
I had heard of Wellington Heights a few times during the past few years, but that's all I knew, just the name.  You knew immediately,  this housing area was different from any other you would find in Taiwan.  It reminded me of Hawaii Loa Ridge in Honolulu.

I know there are folks around the world that spent time in Taipei, many were youngsters and some attended school in the Taipei area.

I thought about you folks when I discovered where we were on our hike.  It was a surprise to be here, never dreamed of ending up in a housing area.

I took many photos, I've tried to pick through to find the best ones that show as much as possible of the area and homes.  I hope someone will find one that brings back happy memories of days gone by... 

UPDATE: 16 October 2012

1.  The photos begin at the top of Wellington Heights next to the Temple.  You might more easily recognize the area if you go to the bottom of the photographs and work your way upward. 

2.  If you would like to find others who resided in Wellington Hts, we will include you on our Taiwan Roster.  Just send us your information. We'll need your name, status (most were dependents of a military or civilian employee of some sort) years you were in Taiwan and your Email address.   We'll ID you as Wellington Heights which will make it easier for you to spot others that check-in from the Heights.

Hiking trail map - at beginning of trail.
First hint that we were at Wellington Heights - the highest point on the hill, next door to the Temple.
Empty pool, not for lack of water, home abandoned.
Next door, another abandoned home.
I looked over this home and the one next door, looks like the soil shifted downward and damaged both structures.
A very nice home, well kept up.

Between two homes, your view toward Taipei.
Roof top water tank, city water is drawn up and filtered before entering house water pipes.  Used for showers, washing machines and chores around the house.  Drinking water is either boiled or purchased. I have a small machine that boils my kitchen hot water, I only use it for hot tea and things that call for hot water, such as oatmeal or use it if I run out of drinking water bottles I purchase by the case from Costco.
Sign says to please be quiet, family housing area.
As we were walking down this street, the owners were putting up their Halloween decorations.  Probably very few places in Taipei where the kids trick or treat.
Home for rent.
Same house as above.
Another home for rent.
A last look up this street, two homes for rent that I saw.
Corner with three roads.
These look like a couple of buildings someone who lived in the area would recognize.
One of the same buildings, close enough to read the door sign.
Same corner, one of same buildings, we were tired and didn't head up this hill.  Looks like many more homes farther up this street.
Same three street intersection, looking down the hill.  We headed out  down the hill.
Someone will remember this corner sign.
The dog didn't seem to care that we were outside his home on the street. 
Best we could determine, this was the Main Gate of Wellington Heights.  There was one guard on duty.
One last look, up the hill is the gate area we just walked past.

Found this on a Facebook Page,  3 April 1015 photo courtesy of Oakayama Larry‎  


Jessica said...

Great pictures... I used to live in Wellington Heights (just after the guard post)... I visited a few years ago, it's amazing how desolated it is now. I remember when I was surrounded by kids from all sorts of countries. Halloween was a blast there... I was planning to go back up that mountain someday soon, maybe I'll do it next weekend. I really need to re-explore that mountain; it was my backyard then. Thanks for sharing. Cheers.

Renee said...

Lived in Wellington Heights in the 70's. Great pictures! Thanks for sharing!

Janice said...

Lived in House number 1, road 1 in the 1970's. Remember walking upto the temple it was lovely. The views over the city were amazing. Thank you for the memories. Would love to go back someday.

Anonymous said...

I lived in this area as well. Lived there during 1972. Thank you for the memories. I am going to post a link to this site in Facebook.

Chris said...

Not sure if I saw my house or not, but I did see where friends of mine used to live and the old Police Substation where we used to play poker in the day room and have bottle rocket wars. Thanks so much for posting... And if you would like to learn more about the area I'm sure there's lots more stories to tell!

Unknown said...

Oh my, what a treat to see these pictures! I lived on 5th Road, right next to the bridge that ended in the side of the mountain. The Wong's house faced the street next to the bridge, our (the Mundy's) was below theirs on the mountain side. We were the house that overlooked the pass and Dog's Head. I sure hope the house that was falling down the mountain wasn't our old home. That did happen to the Zorn's who lived across the street from the Wong's and going "up" the hill side. We had a earthquake and a week later a typoon. Mrs. Zorn said she heard a huge crack and looked out her kitchen window to see her yard falling down the cliff. We all ran in to get her things out but the house started cracking. Yes, half the house eventually fell over. Thank you so much for the pictures. I hope one day I can return.

Unknown said...

I thought i followed the instructions on how to post. My comments came across as "unknown". I am playing the age card here. My name was Linda Mundy(now White) and I lived in Wellington Heights from 1967 through 1970.

dlc said...

Thank-you! We lived at 6th Rd, House 14 '70-'73 and LOVED it!

Sandra said...

Nice trip down memory-lane! Thanks for sharing! We lived here '83-'84-ish, I was 13 at the time. Later on we moved downtown.

Wayne Stratton said...

I lived in Wellington Heights in 1972-1973 with my parents and 5 siblings. Wonderful pictures!! I can remember the temple 40 years ago like it was yesterday... Thank you so much!

Taipei Air Station said...

This comment was left on the Taipei Air Station Guest Book by Jeffrey who was a USAID Dependent 66-70: "I loved the pictures of Wellington. I always wondered how the place looked after we left. I guess typhoons and quakes have taken their toll on these houses that WERE sort of perched on the hillside. Wellington and Beitou and Tien Mou were the first places I explored and remembered in detail. We lived at #25, Road 2. We referred to the road that went to the new "Lover's Temple" as the "Back Road" and it was an unpaved, 2 tire track "road". I remember a marble quarry (for the huge marble graveyard) on a path between the Reservoir and the temple. Also, the tiny lake at the foot of Doghead has filled in and become cropland. Does anyone remember the horseshoe-shaped cave at the bottom of the hill? We used to go in there on rainy mornings when the bus-stop was there. The bus used to not go all the way up the hill until 1967."

Posted by Taipei Air Station Web Master.

Bruce Messick said...

This brought back many positive memories. My home was in the pictures. We all use to catch the school bus at the police station. My neighbors were Sam Westfall, Bill McCandlis, (missed spelled I'm sure). Mike Doolin and the Hope brothers. Thank you for shooting the pics.
Bruce Messick

Daniëlle said...

Fantastic pictures, lived there in 2001-2003. My son was born there....
Back in Holland now.


Bill McCandliss said...

Thank you for the pictures. Looking from Google maps, I can find my house which was #15 on road 2, just under the turn coming down from the police station. The first house down the road 2 side street, which was across the street from Bruce Messick and Amy Stark. The Doolins lived at the bottom of our side street. Looking at G-maps, the gate is much further up the drive than in my day and much of our lot looks overgrown. The the upper bank above the river was within about 10 feet of our lower river-side wall when we left in June of 74. So I think it may be one of those that has been condemned.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful memories! We lived in Wellington Heights 1967-1971--#9 Road 3. So many times we were 'trapped' in because of movies being made below our house. We had the most fantastic view and the movie companies all used it.

Ray Higginbotham said...

Great Pics. I also lived there from 68-70. It was all USAID related personnel there at the time. We lived at the upper level right kitty corner to the lovers temple (which wasn't there then)at the only house with the huge red gate. Memories of Sgt Shiu in charge of the local police 'lending' me his police motorcyle (business trade actually) and tearing off up the hill only to realize coming down at speed that i didn't know how to properly turn the lower corner and crashed into Mrs.Gother's garage door and landing on her wash machine, bike and all. Remember climbing 'dog's head' with the gang in a monsoon, the wellington heights shuttle, trying to hitch a ride up to wellington heights with my scuba gear (china sea dragon's scuba club).... good luck with that. Remember hiking up to the upper elephant mountain radar station behind wellington heights with the my ROTC wantabe friends and the strong smell of sulfur from the mineral spring pits and acres of tangerine trees going up the mountain. Lots of memories, to many to recite here. Love to talk to anyone else who were priviledged to have lived in that 'unique' place.
Ray Higginbotham TAS Class of 1970

BriBri said...

Thanks for the memories! Our family lived in Wellington Heights in 64-65 and I attended TAS Elementary (3rd grade) and the Dominican School. My Dad was a USAF Captain at the radar station. I DO remember the horseshoe shaped caves (weren't there 2, for a total of 4 entrances?) and I was told were Japanese occupation shelters. There was still ordnance and artifacts in them at the time. I remember hiking to Doghead and the cemetary and the little temple at the top of the hill. Our house was near the bottom, around the first? big bend, on the left. I remember my Mom just fell in love with the double sided fireplace, and that my Dad (with my help) built terraced Koi ponds into our steep front yard adjacent to the front steps/staircase after my little brother wiped out riding his wagon down that slope and into the cement fence. My parents were able to hire a Taiwanese couple (Lou and Mary) to live-in as housekeeper/gardener. I loved riding on the back of Lou's motorbike down that hill!

BriBri said...

This is from
(After my time, but then, we were there in 64-66)

AID Dependents From Saigon to Live in Taiwan

Publication Date:04/30/1967
A total of 900 dependents of 225 American officials working in Vietnam will move to Taipei by the end of this year, it was learned last week.

Local contractors are burning midnight candles these days in building 225 three-and four-bed­ room houses for the 900 American dependents.

The houses are being built on a mountain slope at Wellington heights near Peitou in suburban Taipei.

The 225 American officials are staff members of the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) mission in Saigon.

Some 20 of the 225 families already arrived in Taipei about a week ago and another 100 families are expected here before the fall school term opens late in August.

The influx is expected to in­ crease the enrollment at the Taipei American School by some 500, as a result of which additional building projects sponsored by AID are now under way at the Headquarters Support Activity Station Hospital and the Taipei American School.

Dwane Clifford said...

DWANE and EDWIN CLIFFORD. Wow...we lived in Wellington Heights in the early 70's, raised hell on the hill with "rented" motorcycles, had bottle rocket fights at the Police Substation and hanging around with Bruce Messick, Mike Doolin, Steve Durmoody, Lori Delfous, Dwayne and Darryl Tankersly, Jim Potts, Kim Spalla, Jeff and Cheryl Hampton, Jim Anderson and many more. We had a hell of a time! We lived in the house right in front of the Temple (didn't recognize it) and lived next door to the Higgenbottoms.

I am living in the Dallas TX area. Any old friends reading this, contact me at

Terry Lill said...

Loved these pictures! Really brought back old memories...My Father worked for USAID and we lived at #18, 5th Road on Wellington Heights...the last house before the bridge...lived there from 1967 till 1974 when I got married...graduated from Taipei American School in 1970...Teresa Wong (Lill)

Loree Clary said...

What a great time we had living in Wellington Heights. So many kids of all ages in every house. Dads were all working for USAID and away in Vietnam so it was just kids and moms most of the time. We were there 69-72. We were on the upper level and our house caught fire oneday and the top story burned down so they just moved us across the street. Went to Dominican and TAS. Loree Dellfous
my e-mail is

Peter Wilcox said...

So cool thanks for sharing. I lived there from late 68 till early 71. :)

bruceb17 said...

Sounds to me like there's potential here for Wellington Heights reunion. Plenty of TAS reunions over the years but hey, Wellington Heights kids were cooler. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? If there is interest, email me and I'll get a list started.

I was there 68-72 ish.

jhl said...

I am Jeanette Lawrence née Hook. I lived in Wellington Heights from 1967-1969. The homes were all new then. I enjoyed the photos on this site. Taipei was our 8 th overseas post. My dad was in Vietnam. Taipei was one of sever safe haven posts where families lived while the husbands/fathers worked in Vietnam.

Anonymous said...

These pictures are great! They bring back many memories. We lived on either 10th St, #9, or 9th St. #10 It's been many years - were there from 68-70 (3rd-5th grade at TAS). I remember playing kick ball at the junction where three roads met, and a house down the street burning down when their Christmas tree caught fire. There were a bunch of women and older kids trying to put that fire out.

We were too young to do the thrilling stuff the older kids were doing, but we did risk our necks running full speed down the forested hill from the end of the street below us down to the police station/bus stop. We called it The Shortcut. It really was practically a cliff but the mothers never saw us and the policemen never said a word. Fun! It was a great place to live but sort of one-of-a-kind, when you think of it. No men - a community of women and children.

Life Compliance Solutions said...

I just found this while cruising through the TAS alumni page. Kim Westlake-Life, we were safe-haven in Taipei (Wellington Heights, catty-corner to the Cavanaughs on one side and the Wynns on the other. '71 to '73(ish)

Anonymous said...

I lived in Wellington Heights from 1970-1971. I really miss Taipei-the people were wonderful and it was a great experience!

Anonymous said...

I tried to look at these pictures to remember, but the memories are fuzzy. I do know that we lived in Wellington Heights around 1975-76 and that I went to The Dominican School for 3rd grade. I'm going to have to look in the attic for the old yearbook, i'm sure I still have it. Thanks for the pictures...

Murray Zeigler said...

This is incredible. I just stumbled on this through Google. I lived on 5th Road, #14 next door to the Wongs (Kenny). We were there from mid 68 through late 71. Attended TAS for 6th through 8th grades. Hung out with Bill Seal (1st Road at the switchback - house is gone now) Rick Powell and Eric Welty (6th Road). The area sure looks different now. Back then, the houses were all white with red roofs and no swimming pools (that I remember). My dad was with AID in Vietnam and I lived in WH with my mom, bother Bryan and sister Leslie. I have many fond memories but have not had the opportunity to return since we left in 71. I am planning a trip to Taipei with my son next year and really look forward to hiking up to Doghead.

Anonymous said...

My first comment. My family and I were in Wellington Heights from 1965 to 1968. It was a good time in my life. I attended TAS from the 6th through the 8th grades. My Sister, Ruth Ann, from the 8th through the 10th grades.
After 50 years the memories that come to mind;
TAS Horse shoe,
The club pool,
The Compound Movie Theater, Bowling Alley, and Hobby Shop,
The Teen Club, tennis and basketball courts
Hagglers Alley
The Ambassador and Grande Imperial hotels
Macaulay Beach
Beitou Sulfur smells
Binjo Ditches
A rich religious culture
The National Museum
Green Mountain
Dogs Head (and the movie village)
The traffic
Good friends

TAS is planning an International reunion very soon. I can provide contact links if anyone is interested.

Tim Lilly said...

I (Tim Lilly) lived there from 1968 through 1972 with my mother (Catherine) and brother (Brian). My father (Tom Lilly) was the director of air operations for Air America in Military Region 2 (II Corps) in Nha Trang, Republic of South Vietnam under the faux auspices of the State Department's AID Program. I published a novel loosely based on his and my experiences there and in Taiwan I mentioned Dog Head in my novel and just for sh**s and giggles I just googled it to see what would come up and here you are! I recognize a few of the names of those who left comments.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank the author;photographerof this article.
My mother, 3 sisters& I lived on Wellingto Hts from 68-69.
I have bitter sweet memories of life there.We lived in a beautiful white stucco home w/ red brown clay tile roof which was kept immaculate with beautiful gardens by hired help.Our home was on an upper level close to where movies were produced by Taiwanexe.We had a lady who could sew anything we wished.
Sadly, many of the dependents were exposed to drugs that were easily accessible;other unsafe activities while their fathers were in Vietnam.

Billie Stewart said...

WOW, I'm researching Taipei and Wellington Heights as I'm writing my memoirs. I lived in Wellington Heights 1972-1973 with my four daughters, Cathy, Laurie, Carrie and Suzie as my husband Bill Stewart worked for USAID in Saigon. We moved to Saigon late summer of 73. We lived in a great house on 9th Street and my girls attended Taipei American School. They were in 7th, 5th and 3rd grades. I remember that windy road up the mountain to Wellington Heights. We AID wives and kids all became fast friends. Husbands came to visit about every six weeks for 5 to 6 days. Thanks for sharing great memories. Billie Stewart email

Christa Marks said...

Going back to Taipei in a couple of months and am planning to take a drive up to where I used to live in Wellington Heights in 1967-68 when I was 18-19. I have good memories. My father was in Vietnam, USAID and came home one week every month. I was in a singing group there, called the Commonfolk. We went all over singing, but mostly sang in the O Club. It was a fun place. It will be nice to revisit and think about all the things we did.

Elizabeth said...

Lark Godwin back in the day. Lived on Wellington Heights from 1968 thru 1969. My brother is Leo Godwin and my sister is Robin Godwin. I graduated from TAS in 1969, left for the summer and returned to Taipei in fall of 1969. This is the only place I have been able to connect with those years in a deeply personal way. I cannot thank you enough for providing this opportunity. Wow! A million memories flooding my head. My dad was with USAID in Vietnam Nam. I loved the time we lived in Taiwan though I had a bit of a wild streak. I dated Steve Cosentino for a t8me. If you remember him I finally located him but, unfortunately, he has passed away. My mom’s name is Carolyn Godwin. I am too wired with joy to go on. Just thank you,

Tim Lilly said...

Hey Liz,

Tim Lilly here. My brother Brian, my mother and I were all in Wellington Heights while my father was in The 'Nam. Here is a link for a facebook page recently created by Loree Clary for all of us AID kids.

Unknown said...

Wow, thank you so much for a beautiful trip down memory lane. I was one of the kids lucky enough to be part of the USAID development in Wellington Heights. I Greg D. Oswalt was there in 1970 through 1971 with my brothers Steve and Dennis and my mother Joan Oswalt. We lived by the Danny Potts, Mary Zerserbee, Danny Moser,
Pike and his little brother? Ray Q? Our white home with a red brick tile roof overlooked Doghead. I do not remember the street number. I remember the Tyhoons and earth quakes. Many good times at Taipei American School and their swimming pool and the massive fireworks display of the 4th of July. I always wanted to join the China Sea Dragons scuba club but I was too young only 13 and needed to be 15 to join. We took a long bus ride to a private beach where I got massive sunburns but loved snorkeling in the warm China Sea. The rice dough man would come up the hill to make and sell homemade figures and creatures. Movies were being made at the bottom of Doghead and they loved having American kids in their movies.
The magic of Taiwan was in the culture at the time and the people both American and Chinese. Not sure I could find the same magic today but it sure was a great adventure at the time. 02/12/2019