Klerksdorp – Historic Town
Located in the North West Province of South Africa, Klerksdorp started out in 1837 as a Voortrekker settlement on the banks of the Schoonspruit River. The tranquility of this farming community was shattered by the discovery of gold in August 1886, and a town, complete with around 70 taverns and a stock exchange, soon sprang up to accommodate the thousands of gold-diggers who rushed to the area. However, the gold was firmly lodged in a reef, making it difficult and expensive to extract, and the fortune-seekers started leaving in the late 1890s in search of easier pickings – the town, however, remained.
Klerksdorp, which was named in honor of the first magistrate of the area Jacob de Clerq, went down in South African history as the site of fierce fighting during the Second Boer War and was home to a large concentration camp. A graveyard with graves of close to a thousand Boer women and children who died in the concentration camps stands as a grim reminder of this tumultuous time.
Visitors to Klerksdorp can view the 1880s mining shafts and explore the Klerksdorp Museum, or take a walk along the Oudorp hiking trail for insight into the rich history of this picturesque area. Around 15 kilometers outside Klerksdorp, the Faan Meintjies Nature Reserve boasts a variety of wildlife, including at least 150 species of birds; while the Klerksdorp Dam located on the road to Ventersdorp is a popular leisure spot. Klerksdorp has come a long way since the early Voortrekkers first put down roots, but visitors soon come to realize that this historic town has nevertheless retained much of its old-world charm.