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History of the City of Matlosana

Klerksdorp originated in the late 1830s when the first Voortrekkers settled on the banks of the Schoonspruit (“ clear stream”) which flows through the town. Prominent among the first settlers was C M du Plooy who appropriated a farm of some 16 000 ha and called it Elandsheuwel ( “ hill of the eland “). Other trekkers joined him there and, in exchange for help with the construction of a dam and irrigation canal were granted portions of the farm as well as communal grazing rights on the rest of the land. This collection of smallholdings was later given the name of Klerksdorp in honor of the first landdrost ( magistrate ) of the area, Jacob de Clerq.

The tranquility of this rural paradise was shattered in August 1886 when A P Roos discovered gold on the farm Rietkuil ( “ pool of reeds “ ) and on the village ‘s commonage. In the same year, what turned out to be the world’s richest gold reef was discovered on the Witwatersrand about 160 km to the east. The world was in the grip of gold fever and the inevitable rush hit Klerksdorp as well. The 4 000 would be diggers who descended on the village were asked to draw lots for mining rights on public land. A shanty town sprang up virtually overnight on the other bank of Schoonspruit and within three years of the first discovery the “ new town” boasted about 70 taverns and a stock exchange of its own. Before the latter building was put up , “high change” was called at the Exchange Hotel. The diggers of Klerksdorp soon made the same sad discovery as those on the Witwatersrand : the gold was there but it demanded expensive and sophisticated equipment to recover. One by one the Klerksdorp mining companies folded and the diggers moved to tile Witwatersrandsand elsewhere.

The railway from Krugersdorp reached Klerksdorp on 3 August 1897 and that from Kimberley in 1906. Today Klerksdorp is the hub of the gold and uranium mining industry of the Far West Rand.

The 3 500 km˛ district is also known for its fine herds of Sussex cattle, the town being the headquarters of the South African Sussex Cattle Breeders Association.

The most important crops are maize, sorghum, groundnuts and sunflower seed. Klerksdorp boasts the largest maize silo in the country as well as the largest agricultural co-operative in the southern hemisphere, Senwes Cooperative.


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