100-Year Old Free China Junk to Return Home More than 50 Years after its Historic Transatlantic Voyage

Statement by David J. Brown, executive vice president and chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Washington - The century-old Free China Junk will soon depart Oakland, California for Taiwan, more than fifty years after its history-making journey across the Pacific and after four years of hard work to save it by Dione Chen, a crewmember’s daughter. The following is a statement by David J. Brown, executive vice president and chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

“The improbable voyage of the Free China Junk is the stuff of legend: in 1955, a bold crew of Chinese fishermen and one American diplomat—none with any sailing experience—set sail from Taiwan for California in a junk, a traditional wooden sailboat design. Their goal was to compete in a transatlantic yacht race. Though that objective failed, they succeeded in reaching California where the crew began new lives and the Free China Junk was left to rot.

 “Thanks to the tireless advocacy and energy of Dione Chen and the Chinese Junk Preservation organization, the Free China’s remarkable past and its future has been saved. The junk—the last one of its kind in the world—was rescued from demolition and will soon be on its way to a Taiwanese maritime museum. We applaud the vision and determination of Ms. Chen and are proud to have been a financial supporter and technical advisor in this endeavor. The Free China Junk story speaks volumes about historic preservation’s ability to unite people across generations, cultures and oceans.”

BACKGROUND on the Free China Junk

The Free China Junk sat abandoned in a Bay Area boatyard for years. The daughter of a Free China crewmember formed a nonprofit organization, determined to save the junk—the only remaining one of its kind in the world. Four years later, her efforts have paid off as the junk has begun the first leg of its journey to a permanent home at the new National Museum of Marine Science and Technology in Taiwan. It will be fitted with a special cradle for protection during its long freighter journey. The junk will depart from Oakland on Monday and can be observed today at Benicia. There will be a farewell party at the Argonaut Hotel in San Francisco today at 1 pm PST and members of the media are welcome. Taiwan is set to host a welcoming party for the Free China Junk when it arrives in May.

More information about the junk’s past and its future can be found at www.chinesejunkpreservation.com.

 

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
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