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For residents in Huojugou village in China’s Changbai Mountains, a train whistl
e is a euphonious sound that will bring gurgling water to their kitchen and bathhouse.
For 44 years, the mountainous village and several others in northeast China’s Jilin Province
have relied on a train, which only has one locomotive and one tank car, to provide their water supply.
The train commutes between the towns of Songshu and Baihe, nestled deep in Changbai Mountain. Since 1975, it has run for m
ore than 1.6 million km, delivering water to over 2,600 nearby villagers that had limited access to clean water.
Though cisterns have been built to store water unloaded from the trains, villagers along the line
still keep the tradition of welcoming the train in person, clanking their buckets and bottles.
Fetching water used to be a big headache. We had to travel to a far-away river to get water and e
ven make a hole in the ice during winter,” said Li Zuopei, an 80-year-old resident in Yingbishan village.
“Then the small train sent water right to our doorsteps, and it’s amaz
ing that the service has been going on uninterrupted for so many years,” said Li.