The long history of Shenmu Station dates back to the Japanese Colonial Era when timber-rich Taiwan was still an important center for logging. In 1906, a Japanese technician found a 53-meter-high, more than 3000-year-old Formosan cypress standing next to the Alishan Forest Railway line. This giant tree measured 23 meters at its trunk circumference and required 16 adults to reach around it, so huge that it was revered as the sacred tree.
In 1956, the Formosan cypress was struck by lightning twice, causing it to burn inside out. On 1st July 1997 – the day Hong Kong was handed over to China – the sacred tree that had been standing throughout the history finally succumbed to the ravages of time, toppling with a loud crash amidst a torrential downpour. A year later, the Forestry Bureau decided to log what remained of its trunk for safety considerations, and it was laid down at the place where it once stood.
After the fall of the sacred tree, the Chiayi County Government and the Alishan management carried out the construction of Giant Tree Trail (巨木群棧道) along 38 other noted trees within the park. Of course, this walking trail winding through the cypress forest has become a popular landmark in Alishan ever since then.