Aerial View of Dushanzi

The Relics of Empire: Resource Extraction and the Making of Modern Xinjiang

Aerial View of Dushanzi

The town of Dushanzi (lone mountain) sits with the Tianshan foothills to its back (the south) and the wide-open Zungarian steppe in front (the north). The hill in the foreground is the “lone mountain” from which the town gets its name. At the top of the hill is the bubbling oil spring that first attracted locals, Qing officials, and Russian explorers to the town in the late nineteenth century. It is also the site of the first modern oil well drilled in Xinjiang. The buildings lined up in front of the hill are all connected to the oil operation, and many of them once housed the Xinjiang-Soviet and Sino-Soviet oil enterprises. Today, the hill is off-limits to foreign tourists, as it offers a bird’s-eye view of the PetroChina refinery located just north of the hill (to the right in the picture).