You are never too late for the gold rush. Pilgrim’s Rest is situated on the magnificent Panorama Route on the eastern Escarpment region of the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa. The area is richly imbued with a diversity of natural, cultural and historic gems. The uniqueness of this historic village is vividly evident in its museums and historic sites. It offers the visitor a fascinating window into the past and captures the spirit of a bygone era and its people in their quest for gold. The entire time of Pilgrim’s Rest was declared a national monument in 1986 as a living memory of the early gold rush days in South Africa during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Since then, a dedicated team of historians, architects, curators and special interest groups closely monitor all developments and refurbishments in the village to maintain its historic appearance.
Mining in this region of Mpumalanga dates back many centuries and unknown miners worked quartz reefs in the area for gold. Proof of these diggings can still be found in this area. The history of this small, delightful village dates back to 1873 when a miner, Alex Patterson, discovered alluvial gold on the farm named Ponieskrans. He had left the Mac Mac area to search for a place that was less congested. Though the discovery was kept a secret, the inevitable happened and a second prospector, William Trafford also discovered gold close by. What they had found in this beautiful valley drew optimistic gold panners and prospectors from all over the country and the world. News of gold strikes of this magnitude traveled fast.
On the 22nd of September 1873, Pilgrim’s Rest was officially proclaimed a gold field and a scatter of tents and rudimentary shacks soon grew into a flourishing little village complete with sturdy brick houses, church, shops, canteens, a newspaper and a well known royal hotel. The diggers called it Pilgrim’s Rest because here at last after so many false trails and faded dreams, they had truly found their home. In due course, the alluvial deposits were depleted and the locals turned to forest. But their village, its residents still number in the hundreds, has been painstakingly preserved as a living museum and major South African tourist venue. Enjoy a leisurely scenic drive, traveling down winding roads, and ease into a bygone era where time stands still in this, our valley of gold.