The areas surrounding Nelspruit were born on the backs of the ancient mines. Dotted all around Barberton, Kaapsehoop, and Pilgrims Rest, to name but a few of the old towns, are mines going deep down into the earth. These same mines are the reason why our small part of the world is so filled with interesting history, and is the very reason why some places are now ghost towns.

When staying at our Nelspruit accommodation, you can easily spend a morning or afternoon visiting one of the old mining towns. The one closest to Nelspruit is Kaapsehoop and it is today an attraction that entices countless visitors, many of whom are from Nelspruiters seeking some peace, quiet and mountain air.

A bohemian town today, but a gold diggers delight back then, Kaapsehoop is well known for many reasons, including its mining heritage. And some of the oldest mines in the area can be found in and around the village of Kaapsehoop.

No one is quite sure exactly who first started mining here, or exactly where they came from. Although their artefacts and tools have been uncovered here. Few people have recorded history from this period, but the Mining Commissioner of Kaapsehoop at the time, David Wilson, did keep a record of a few of the examples of these early miners’ activities.

When the government at the time requested that a shaft be sunk for mining, in order to uncover the source of alluvial gold, an object was found. Once they reached a depth of 17 feet, what was initially thought of as a nugget was actually a square hinge. The one side of the hinge had a small piece of parchment upon which characters were written while on the other side was a piece of human hair. The scribbles on the parchment were not recognised. The outside of the hinge was decorated with figures.

The locket was such an interesting discovery that it was sent off to the Masonic Lodge in Barberton, as it was agreed that the symbols on the locket were masonic in origin. Since then the peculiar object has disappeared.

Other objects were also found, also with markings, but they too have been lost to history. The other notable artefact is a sarcophagus cut out of stone. This remarkable piece of stone was discovered on a rock lodge some 2000 feet above the plain between Lydenburg and De Kaap Valley.

The scatterings of history and the people who once made their living from the earth can be seen all across Kaapsehoop and a little digging back in time presents numerous fascinating stories. When you travel through this part of the world, don’t leave Kaapsehoop off your map.

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