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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pilgrims Rest - Part 1

Mining in this region of Mpumalanga dates back many centuries, when unknown miners worked quartz reefs in the area for gold.

Proof of these diggings can still be found in this area.
Pilgrim's Rest is a historical gold-mining town. In the year 1873, the digger Alec Patterson was roaming the densely forested hills, all the while pushing a wheelbarrow with his belongings.
At a place later called "Pilgrim's Creek" he got lucky. He saw big lumps of gold shimmering in the clear water. Full of joy he exclaimed "The pilgrim can rest!"
Soon thereafter, the gold rush started. Diggers from all over the world flocked to Pilgrim's Rest and settled along the river. The town developed rapidly.
The gold finds of Pilgrim's Rest turned out to be the richest alluvial gold deposits (surface gold) in southern Africa. In 1895 the Transvaal Gold Mining Estate Ltd was founded and bought successively all the claims of the diggers, most of them only about 50 square meters (1 m = 3 feet) in size.
The company worked profitably until the middle of the 20th century. Eventually, in 1971 the resources were exhausted and the operation was shut down.
In 1972 the former company town of Pilgrim's Rest was bought by the government and declared a National Monument.
The old buildings were meticulously restored, preserving the special character of the place with its tin-roofed cottages.
Visitors can nowadays walk through various of theses houses, e.g. the "Miner's House", a typical, very humbly furnished dwelling of a gold digger.

28 comments:

Tony nile life said...

Nice one .very interesting, did they have the old music sheets for the piano, as it looks like a Wurlitzer with the glass panel and workings.

Firefly said...

Sorry but I've been away and then had no bandwidth left so I haven't visited much. But I am catching up. I have never been to Pilgrim's Rest (actually the whole Lowveld) but would love to visit. I am busy reading Kringe in die Bos which also includes a part where the gold rush outside Knysna happens. Interesting history.

A human kind of human said...

Lovely little town. I am so excited for we are spending the first week in June in and around Hasyview and I love the Lowveld. I cannot wait. I hope you will have a blessed Easter and remember, we are only phonecall away and the roads to Moria is quiet on Saturday and Sunday (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Gena D said...

Hi Joan!
Jonker suggested I pop into your blog ... I did a post on Pilgrims Rest today and he said you had too - how coincidental!!!!!

Lovely post - gorgeous pics - I chose to do some of the sign in the area - so much want to go back!!!

Gena @ Thinking Aloud
a photoblog
South Africa

Link: http://tobethinkingaloud.blogspot.com/2010/04/signs-of-pilgrims-rest.html

Gaelyn said...

Pilgrim's Rest was a fun little town. Loved the old stuff. Sure wish we'd have found a nugget in the creek.
Again I learned more about this place. You are an Awesome tour guide.

Dale Forbes said...

there is this pottery in down-town that makes the best cappuccino in the world (with little marshmallows ;-)

Mary said...

Joan, your photos are so amazing and your reflections on life so captivating that I can only visit your blog when I have a quiet space of time for enjoyment. I have loved browsing all your posts since my last visit and was particularly touched by your thoughts on loss and "getting over it" plus the photos you chose to accompany the reflections. With perhaps a slight expansion, this post would make a beautiful small inspirational book. Oh, and I can't forget to mention how much I love the "holes" in another earlier post. Rocks are so eloquent, aren't they?

Krista said...

Awesome, awesome awesome!!! We had a Gold Rush here, too, back in 1898(ish). I always find it so interesting when history is shared in this way.

Great photos! I love the sign for bacon and hams. Accept No substitute! :o) Love it.

Craver Vii said...

That old camera is intimidating. Can you imagine going back in time, wanting to snap a photo, and having to use that???

troutbirder said...

I love history. This was a good one. Thanks

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

No sheet music Tony. I will bet if they did it would not be long before it is stolen. LOL!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

That was such a hive of activity in those days Jonker. They tell me there are still people panning the rivers there but there is not much gold left I'm afraid.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

That sounds wonderful Anne. It is a wonderful place to spend a few days with so much to see in the area especially all the waterfalls.

I have considered going up to you this weekend but I think I will give it a miss and make it some other weekend. Thanks for the invite. It was wonderful to meet your family too and glad you stopped by.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Hello Gena. As a matter of fact I had just been onto your blog too and saw your post. Those are lovely old signs.

You have some interesting posts on your blog and I gather you are in the northern Cape somewhere?

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Gaelyn. You were the perfect companion too. I look forward to seeing your posts.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Oh that does sound good Dale. I LOVE marshmallows in my coffee!! :) We did go there but did not stop for coffee as we were planning to have breakfast in Sabi. We reached Pilgrims Rest too late the previous day to see the lower town too.

Are you planning another trip here this year?

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thank you for your kind words Mary. I do have a lot more thoughts on the subject but never want to write them all down as it makes the post too long. I guess in some ways I am a thinker and having had a few losses of loved ones in my life, it should make one toughen up but the last one was/is devastating for me.

Those rock fascinate me with their colors and I know you would appreciate it too with all your talent.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Krista. These little villages have been turned into wonderful places and are so steeped in history. I wonder at all the tales these old buildings could tell if they could.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

I really do not think I would have become a photographer then Craver. Imagine having to lug that thing around all the time? It must weigh a ton!!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You are welcome TB. I have another chapter of it on the 3rd. Walking down the street one can almost feel the past reaching out to you.

Rambling Woods said...

I wondered if you and Gaelyn had been there...I guess I think of gold rushes in relation to the states because of course no other country exists ...lol.... That must have been a hard way to earn a living... Michelle

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

What a cute new avatar Michelle. :) I think Gaelyn and I covered a good pice of ground while she was there and I am hoping she will come back next year so I can show her more. It was a pity I could not spend longer with her but as it was the end of our financial year, I had to get back to work unfortunately. :(

many people tend to forget that SA is one of the leading gold mining countries in the world and our passed history is steeped in its history.

LOL!! When one does not travel much, you do tend to forget there are other countries out there. :)

Diane AZ said...

Fascinating history! I love the reflection in the second photo and also the wire animals. I've made animal sculptures with wire and I know how time consuming it is.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Diane. The people who do these animals are so talented.

Mary said...

Very interesting! I like those beaded animals :-)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

It was an interesting place to visit but a real tourist trap.

Anna said...

Thanks for the info Joan. Wow for the animals made of wire, and beading too, that must be a lot of work. Anna :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

It sure is Anna and takes hours to do but these people are so talented.