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Calitzdorp municipality had its own Coat-of-Arms which was registered to it in perpetuity. Calitzdorp Municipality no longer exists but legally no one else may use the Arms.
When electricity was installed in Calitzdorp in 1937, it was the smallest electricity supply setup in the country, the least costly installation and Calitzdorp’s supply price was the cheapest per unit in South Africa.
When built between 1943 -1954, the concrete road from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn - known locally as the \'sementpad\' - was the longest concrete road in South Africa. It was NOT the country\'s first concrete road, as is frequently claimed.
The last ever steam train on the Oudtshoorn-Calitzdorp line was a special Union Line day trip for steam train enthusiasts on 13 August 1997, four years after the official closing of the line. The loco was a class 19D No 2753
The Little Karoo was once an inland sea of approximately 14,500 square kilometers. It would have been a quarter the size of Lake Victoria, half the size of lake Malawi, 24 times the size of the Dead Sea and 87 times the size of the Sea of Galilee!
Huge Fossil bones found in the Calitzdorp district were thought by Hoffman in 1966 to possibly be those of the Giant Plesiosaur – the same as Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster, ‘Nessie’. However they were later identified as those of the sauropod Algoasaurus related to the Brontosaurus.
In the 1800s and early 1900s there was a thriving Jewish community in the Little Karoo. Many of their shops had no doors for customers - who climbed in through the windows!
Calitzdorp has South Africa’s largest Pale Chanting Goshawk bird population – the only polyandrous raptor in South Africa.
The Calitzdorp Nel’s river dam was the first mass-concrete agricultural irrigation dam wall built in the country.
The dam was built in 1913-1918, before modern equipment was available, and work was done with picks and shovels. Donkeys and mules did the hauling. There was one 36 BHP suction gas engine which ran all the major plant.
The Nel’s river which flows through Groenfontein valley and fills Calitzdorp dam was previously known as the Kango river and is shown as such on the original subdivision map of the Buffelsvlei farm, dated April 1834.
The word Kango comes from the Khoisan language – The Khoisan called the Swartberg mountains the Kango and the word means ‘place rich in water’.
A Surveyor General’s Map dated 25 Jan 1847 shows that Daniel Nel owned large sections of the Kango river / valley farmland, Probably why the river became known as ‘Nel’s river’.
Cape leopards still roam freely in the mountains around Calitzdorp. Extremely shy, and ranging over enormous territories, these rare, beautiful animals are seldom seen.
Calitzdorp sits on a geological fault line that runs for 300 kilometers along the southern edge of the Cape Fold mountains – proof being our local hot spring at the Calitzdorp Spa.
In the 1850s the town of George was a 50 hour trek by ox-wagon from Calitzdorp! This time did not include overnight stops and time for the oxen to rest and graze.
After their discovery, the Cango caves were known as \'die Druipkelder’. and only became known as Cango Caves many years later.
When Electricity was first provided in Bergsig, each of the smaller houses had one connection to a street light, and electricity was only available at night when the street lights were switched on.
Lucerne – a major fodder crop around Calitzdorp, came to South Africa from South America in 1861. Its introduction into the Little Karoo dramatically changed the ostrich industry
There are 34 internationally recognised biodiversity Hotspots in the entire world - and Calitzdorp is surrounded by four.
The plant biomes – areas of a certain type of plant growth - are identified as World Hot Spots because of the unique - and threatened vegetation, found nowhere else in the world.
Each of the four World Hot Spots around Calitzdorp –fynbos, thicket, remnant forest and succulent Karoo – has at least 1500 endemic plant species – each Hot Spot biome having more plant variety than the whole of Europe
Calitzdorp’s first cemetery is said to have been in the area of “The Queen of Calitzdorp” Lodge - but maybe this old cemetery was under the \'spookhuis\' - giving reason for its name? Long demolished, the police station now stands where the \'spookhuis\' once was.
During the world-wide ‘flu epidemic of 1918, Calitzdorp was not spared and the beautiful double-storey home at 1 Queen street was used as a make-shift hospital for the duration of the epidemic
More than eleven thousand hand-cut stones were used to build the Dutch Reformed Church. The raw stone was transported by ox-wagon from Swartkop at Vlei Rivier and dressed on the building site.
Because of its enormous size, the Dutch Reformed Church vestry table (5,2m) had to be made on site.
On 22 February 1991 the imposing sandstone Dutch Reformed Church and its surrounding fence was declared a National monument - now known as a Provincial Heritage Site.
The cast-iron fencing, erected around the perimeter of the Dutch Reformed Church grounds in 1899, is eleven years older than the church itself.
The five massive Dutch Reformed Church bells - three huge and two slightly smaller ones, cost £425 and were cast in Germany. They were donated by J J Grundling and his wife in memory of their grandson Jacobus Johannes Grundling Meyer
The magnificent Dutch Reformed Church organ - considered the best in the country at the time and said to have then had 942 pipes, was imported from Hamburg, Germany.
The Huisrivier Pass underwent major upgrading in 2012 and 2013. To the astonishment of workers at a stop/go point on the construction site, a leopard crossed the road right in front of them - in broad daylight!
The very rare, unusual, yellow Protea - Mimetes chrysanthus – was discovered in the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve by game guard Mr Willie Julies in September 1987.
Calitzdorp is on Route 62 – the longest wine route in the world.
Voortrekker road – or Route 62 – was firstly known as Bloekomlaan (Bluegum avenue) due to the number of gum trees which lined the road.
A number of original little houses were demolished on Voortrekker Road and the bluegum street-trees were removed to widen the road when Route 62 was built.
The house which reputedly stood on the land where the police station and magistrates\' court now stand, was known as ‘die Spookhuis’. Could the reason be - that just maybe - this might have been the site of Calitzdorp\'s first unmarked, unidentified cemetery?
Axe Hill winery was named after stone-age hand tools, from some 250 thousand years ago, found on the property when the farm was being established by the late Tony Mossop and his wife Lyn.
It is rumoured that Cecil John Rhodes gave a speech to Calitzdorp residents from the steps of the beautiful residence at 1 Queen Street, but so far we have found no proof of him visiting the town.
Old timers have suggested that the beautiful home at 1 Queen street was ransacked or torched by Boer Commandant Gideon Scheepers and his men during the second Anglo-Boer War. We have found no proof - but we do know that Scheepers was active in the Calitzdorp area at the time.
In 1922 when Howard Carter opened Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt, one of the first things he found was a perfect, 3,000 year old, ivory-handled ostrich feather fan.
In 1918 there were outlying schools in Groenfontein, Buffelskloof, Buffelsjagsfontein, Gamka-Oos, Gamka-Wes, Huisrivier, Janfourieskraal, Kruisrivier-Wes, Uitvlug, Warmbad en Warmwater, along with the Juta and Reenen school.
Spekboom - Portulacaria afra - takes in and uses huge volumes of atmospheric carbon – part of the global warming problem – and converts it into oxygen. How great is that? Plant some and help save the world!
\'Kougoed\' - the Kanna plant, Sceletium tortuosum of the Mesembryanthemoideae family - is a local ancient herb with mood enhancing properties said to rival Prozac! – but it is non addictive and has no side effects.
In 1869 Arthur Douglass invented an ostrich incubator , causing a stir in the Little Karoo where farmers now started fencing their lands to farm ostriches more intensively
In 1872 Mr Burdett opened Calitzdorp’s first shop
On the 3rd of July 2015, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), at a meeting held in Bonn in Germany, approved the elevation of the existing Rooiberg, Gamkaberg and Groenefontein Protected Areas, to the status of World Heritage Sites
Each return journey of the steam train between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp, burned up four tons of coal!
The first regular train from Oudtshoorn ran into Calitzdorp on Friday 14th November 1924 and the official opening took place a few days later on the 20th November.
Seweweekspoort peak at 2,352m is not only the highest peak in the Klein Swartberg range, it is also the highest in the Western Cape. Classified as an ultra prominent peak it is also the 8th highest peak in South Africa.
Endemic to Seweweekspoort, the first specimens of an unknown, rare Protea were collected by botanists T P Stoekoe and R Primos in 1928. Later thought to be extinct – this Protea Aristata was ‘re-discovered’ in 1953.
The survey for the new Huisrivier Pass was started in 1951. It took almost ten years to find a suitable route over the difficult, treacherous mountains to Ladismith, before construction of the Pass could start.
Seweweekspoort’s rare endemic red Aristata protea was proudly displayed on the 10 cent postage stamp of the South African 1977 Protea Series.
Calitzdorp became the Port capital of South Africa by accident. Years ago, Shiraz vines ordered and planted by the Nel family of de Krans, later turned out to be Touriga Nacional – the main port grape! What a happy mistake!
On 25 December, 2015 there was a full moon. Younger than 38 years old at the time? Then this would have been your first Christmas full moon. The last one was in 1977 and the next one will only be on 25 December 2034!
Everyone knows South Africa’s symbols – the flower symbol is the King Protea, the animal is the springbok, the tree is the Real Yellowwood and the bird is the Blue Crane. But did you know that we have a national fish? Believe it or not, we do! the Galjoen
Western Cape’s provincial symbols : The provincial flower is the Red Disa, the provincial tree is the Silver Tree. Our animal is the Bontebok and our provincial bird is the Cape Sugarbird
The ostrich is the world\'s largest flightless bird, followed in size by Australia\'s Emu and Cassowary.
The Cape Leopard is a small animal - probably the size of a large dog – and is half the size and weight of its Kruger Park cousins. The average weight of a male Cape Leopard is about 35 kilograms.
No longer viable, the Oudtshoorn - Calitzdorp train service was officially stopped and the line closed to regular traffic on 31 May 1993.

concrete road

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The concrete road between Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn is known locally as the ‘sementpad’  (cement road) and is  sometimes incorrectly claimed to be the first concrete road in the country.

Cement Rd Remhoogte kloof bridge

Cement Rd Remhoogte kloof bridge

The District Councils of Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp combined to construct the concrete road between the two towns. Oudtshoorn District Council undertook the construction of the first 15.5 miles (24.95 kilometers) from Oudtshoorn to the Calitzdorp district boundary between 1943 and 1946.

Calitzdorp District Council undertook the construction of the second section of the cement road between the Oudtshoorn district boundary and the crossing of the Gamka river at the foot of the Huisrivier Pass some eight kilometers west of Calitzdorp town.

This 19 mile (30.58 kilometre) long section was constructed between 1947 and 1954. Dates were etched at regular intervals in the concrete surface of the road

The concrete was laid to a thickness of 4½ inches (11.43 centimetres) over the entire contract of 34.5 Miles (55.53 kilometers).


As can be seen on the archival list of the first concrete roads in the country presented below, it is shown not as the first – but probably the longest concrete road in South Africa at the time.

South Africa’s first recorded cement road was ¾ mile long (1.207 kilometers) on the South Coast Road at Isipingo, Natal. This was built by the Natal Provincial Administration in 1927.

(below)Archival list of South Africa’s first concrete roads

Click documents to enlarge –
Calitzdorp – Oudtshoorn road on second page – or page 3 here : Concrete roads in SA

Concrete archive List page 2 enhanced Concrete archive List page 3 enhanced

The historical documentation was provided by the Information Centre of the Concrete Institute of South Africa. The reports were done by the Portland Cement Institute which was one of the predecessors of the Concrete Institute.

Correspondence from the C & CI information Centre stated on 17 February 2015:

‘Unfortunately that list of roads does not include all the concrete roads in SA at that time, so there may have been other concrete roads that were longer’.

No further information has been found however, to refute the ‘longest at the time’ claim.

In the Portland Cement Institute’s Report of Concrete Roads Inspection dated April – May 1963, the Oudtshoorn to Calitzdorp road was still considered – nine years after its completion – to be ‘one of the longest concrete roads in the country’.


Click documents to enlarge – or centre section here :  Concrete road Calitzdorp Oudtshoorn

Concrete riad inspection heading edited 1-1

As mentioned in the document heading above, this inspection report included numerous cement roads across the country. (Below) Relevant section of PCI Report of Concrete Roads Inspection dated April – May 1963

Concrete riad inspection part 2 edited 1-1

Concrete riad inspection part 3 edited 1-1


It is not known how long the Calitzdorp–Oudtshoorn concrete road held the title of ‘longest in the country’. When the new Rouite 62 road was built in 1976, a length of the concrete road from the Gamka river crossing right through Calitzdorp was lost to the construction of the new tar road.  Today the cement road starts at the viewpoint above the Gamka valley at the Calitzdorp Winery end of Andries Pretorius road.


The road runs along the fertile valley of the Olifants river and includes a number of bridges.



Remhoogte bridge shows no date

Remhoogte bridge shows no date

Remhoogte Kloof sign

Remhoogte Kloof sign almost illegible









  •  Remhoogte Kloof bridge (above)shows no date
  • Breelaagte bridge is dated 1950.
Cement Road Breelaagte river date 1950

Breelaagte river bridge date 1950









  • Dongaskloof bridge with its incredibly dilapidated and almost illegible sign (this is surely a museum piece!) is dated 1950 and there is also the date 3.11.50 inscribed in the concrete road surface at its base.
Cement road Dongaskloof amazing old sign!

Dongaskloof amazing old sign!


 3.11.50 etched in road surface Dongaskloof bridge

3.11.50 etched in road surface Dongaskloof bridge









cement road 1942 bridge o'hrn end

Rietvlei bridge  1942 



  • Rietvlei bridge is clearly marked 1942





Cement road unnamed bridge o'h side

Wynandsrivier bridge



  • Wynands river bridge – the last bridge closest to the Oudtshoorn end, has writing on a rectangular slab at one end.





cement road Wynandsrivier plaque

‘cement’ road Wynandsrivier plaque

This is now almost illegible. It appears that what was probably a damaged or crumbling surface has been roughly plastered over with no regard for the lost inscription. What can still be seen in fancy print says ‘Wynand’srivier brug’ and some other odd letters and no visible date.








The concrete road today, despite much patching through the years, is in dire need of attention. In 2014 a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment document re rehabilitation and upgrading of the concrete road was hand delivered to affected residents.

Summarized in one paragraph the report stated that :

‘Divisional Road 1688 consists of a severely degraded concrete blockroad.
This road was identified to be upgraded to a surfaced road.’

The time frame concluded with :  ‘Commencement of activity  August 2014.’

This would mean the end of our historic sementpad.

It is now October 2017 and to date we can still bump along our historically interesting relic !!  There is no sign of workers or any effort to start the concrete road make-over. Yet.



Cement and concrete in varying forms have been known since ancient times, but the earliest recorded concrete roads were built in Austria in the 1850s in England in 1865.

America proudly boasts its oldest cement road (then called “artificial stone’) with a sign proclaiming World’s Oldest Concrete Street“. Built in 1891 on Court Avenue around the Logan County Court House in Bellefontaine in the MidWest, it is still visible for the length of one city block.