A “whistle stop” used to be common in campaign politics or publicity tours. A candidate, celebrity, or national figure would board a train. Every time the train would pull into the station, the statesman would get off, briefly interact with a waiting crowd, make a speech, or just simple wave to their supporters. Once finished, they would immediately board again and then quickly depart. The term “whistle stop” comes from the sound of steam engine’s whistle.
In an age of social media, blogs, and media appearances, the importance of these quick stops have lessened. You still see some version of this in American presidential politics, however — but its rarely trains now, but more like airplanes and their hangers. “Whistle stop,” however, can easily be applied to momentous moment in Changzhou.
The Nationalist Revolution in 1911 swept away the Qing Dynasty and put a definitive end to thousands of years of Emperors and their courts. To put it easily, it was the end of epoch and a start of a new era. In 1912, Sun Zhongshan (Sun Yat-sen) rode towards Nanjing to the eventuality of becoming the Provisional President of the Republic of China. Along the way, he had a “whistle stop” in Changzhou to wave at an enthusiastic crowd.
This moment has now been documented in a new Sun Zhongshan Memorial Hall downtown. It has been there for decades, but it looked abandoned and deteriorating. It was only until recently that the Changzhou municipal government put some money into restoring it. This place is rather easy to find. It’s located close a KFC and the Qu Quibai former residence on Yangling Road — only it is in an alley behind the retail shops.