Sunday, October 25, 2009

Graskop (K 7)

Name: Graskop

In the 1850s a renowned eastern Transvaal character, Abel Erasmus, known to the Africans as Dubula Duze ('he who shoots at close range'), had a farm called Graskop ('grassy Hill'). From here he exercised rough justice as the Native Commissioner of the lowveld. Today, Graskop is the terminus of the branch railway from Nelspruit and a centre of a substantial timber industry.

Just like other towns in Mpumalanga farming was the important occupation in Graskop as well. When gold mines were discovered in Pilgrims Rest, it became necessary for having an access through rail transport , Since Graskop was the nearest settlement available , a railway station was opened here in 1914 paving way for a blossoming growth era for Graskop.

In 1910 the building of a railway spur from Nelspruit through the farm Sabie and onto the farm Graskop had begun. The line was completed in June 1914, and Graskop was declared a town later in that year. By 1918 the town would have a church, a store, and a primary school. Because of the high rainfall, vegetable and fruit farming were not viable in the area. The vegetation was also not well suited to cattle farming, and the town remained a railway town for some time.

The first modern records relating to the town of Graskop date back to 1843, with the arrival of the Voortrekkers in the area. They were searching for a route to the coast, to what is known today as Maputo in Mozambique. In the 1850s, the farm Graskop (so named because of the vast tracts of grassveld and absence of trees in the area) was owned by one Abel Erasmus, who leaves his name on a pass over the Escarpment

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A contract with the Nederlandsche Zuid Afrikaansche Maatskappy, approved by the Volksraad on 23 August 1884, stipulated for work on the construction of a railway line from the border of Mozambique subject to the provision that a section from Lourenco Marques (Maputo) to Komatipoort should first be completed , to enable the carriage by rail of the necessary construction material.

This provision would however delay the construction and only in 1888 did the N.Z.A.S.M commence practical work in anticipation of being able to link up track when this railroad should reach the border. The eventual construction would, however, turn out to be extremely
dangerous. The death rate amongst the workers was 135 per thousand.

The bridge over the Komati River was completed at the end of May 1891 and the railhead reached Komatipoort Station on 1 July 1892. On 1 October it reached Hectorspruit Station; on 28 December it had arrived in Malelane, and it eventually reached Krokidilpoort Station in April 1892. The railhead reached Nelspruit and was put into commission on 20 June 1892. Construction continued and by 1 June 1893 it was at Alkmaar, and on 20 January 1894 at Waterval Onder. Wateval Boven was reached on 20 June 1894 and the line was completed when the last bolt was driven by President Kruger in November 1894.

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