Klerksdorp a medium sized town, similar in extend as Potchefstroom. Situated on the banks of the Schoonspruit about 45 kilometer west from Potchefstroom. The main reason for its existence is gold mining, although not the reason why Klerksdorp exists. GPS coordinates: 26.8667°S 26.665°E elevation: 1315m
Kleksdorp is competing with Potchefstroom about which town was the first north of the Vaal river. Essentially a mining town, gold was discovered near the town in 1887. Gold mining here had a very chaotic history because of a heavily fractured reef.
It was only in the 40th and 50th of the 20th century that enough gold was found at greater depth to make large scale mining possible.
Emil Holub came through the town in 1873 and he wrote in his book 'Sieben Jahre in Süd Africa' printed 1881: Klerksdorp consisted in 1873 of a main street in which I counted approximately 25 houses. Since then the town has grown and promises to become in competition with Potchefsroom the most significant town of the southwest Transvaal. Each house had a garden with fruittrees such as Peaches and Oranges, hedges are grown from Quince bushes and Pomagranets.
This mainstreet is still there, now aptly named Potgieter street. Looking at the picture one can well imagine Emil with his oxwagon trekking through town counting the houses.
The first houses were built around 1840, this came about through the first occupier of the land around the present Klerksdorp, C.M.du Plooy, who had claimed 40000 acres as his own, he invited fellow trekkers to live on his land. For a piece of ground along the Schoonspruit with boundaries that can even today still be seen on Google Earth, and grazing rights they had to construct a dam and water furrows.
An important historical event that took place here was the first peace negotiations at which the Free State and the Transvaal were present, that was March 1902. It was followed by the final talks at Vereeniging in May 1902, which than led to the surrender of the independence of the two republics.
Klerksdorp has a number of interesting places.
The jail in Lombaard street is now a museum and we found it open even on a Saturday, that was August 2011. Some interesting exhibits are on display.
And talking of museums, there is also the open air museum on the left hand side, coming in from Potchefstroom. At the time of our visit it was closed, but the guard was very reasonable during our visit and let us in. The area was the site of a blockhouse manned by the British during the Boer War. They left behind numerous pieces of graffiti hammered into the rock-face. Life must have been boring sitting up there waiting for the Boers to attack. It was also the site of the first goldmine, the entrances to some of the adits still being visible.
There are two in Klerksdorp. The one at the top of Potgieter street appears to be the older one because of its relative position to the old village.. But the second one, which I call the cemetery between the rails is behind the railway station and also contains some very old graves. The between the rails cemetery is well organised, being subdivided into the various religions, there are Catholics, Presbyterian, Anglican, Afrikaans, Jews, Muslims etc. Not sure where they would bury Atheists? Within it is also the concentration camp cemetery and the Boer War graves of the British. A special section of that was a small square for the New Zealanders. The picture shows some of the British graves.
Emil Holub "Sieben Jahre in Süd-Afrika", subtitle: "Erlebnisse, Forschungen und Jagden auf meinen Reisen von den Diamantenfeldern zum Zambesi (1872-1879)", printed Wien 1881.
T.V.Bulpin, "Lost Trails of the Transvaal", Nelson 1965