Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sir Lowry's Pass (B 17)

Name: Sir Lowry's Pass

Sir Lowry's Pass is a mountain pass on the N2 national road in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It crosses the Hottentots-Holland mountain range between Somerset West and Grabouw on the main national road between Cape Town and the Garden Route. A railway line also crosses the mountain range at this point.

The pass is 4 lanes wide and is subject to heavy traffic, especially at the start and end of holiday periods when many people travel in and out of the Cape Town area, and is sometimes seen as an accident black spot.

The summit of the pass is at 420m. There is a viewpoint at the summit and this point is also used as a paragliding launch point.[1] Baboons are often seen in this area. The top of the pass was formerly the start of the Boland Hiking Trail, but this section of the trail was closed after a number of deaths due to the difficult hiking conditions.[2] On the Grabouw side, the road passes the Steenbras Dam.

Sir Lowry's Pass Village is situated near the base of the pass.

[edit] History
The mountain crossing in that region was known by the indigenous Khoi people as the Gantouw or Eland's Pass, and was used as a stock route. The Dutch and British settlers at the Cape built a rough pass called the Hottentots Holland Kloof Pass following the Gantouw route. The first recorded crossing was in 1664,[2] and by 1821 the pass was seeing 4500 ox-wagons per year crossing into the interior, but the route was so severe that more than 20% of them were damaged.[3] The ruts left by these wagons being dragged over the mountains can still be seen, and were declared a National Monument in 1958.[4][2]

Starting in 1828, a new pass was constructed on the current route, about 2km to the south of the Hottentots Holland Kloof, by the engineer Charles Michell using convict labour. The new pass was opened on 6 July 1830, and named after Lowry Cole, the Governor of the Cape Colony at the time. In the 1930s, the pass was widened and tarred; it was further improved in the 1950s, and in 1984 the upper parts were widened to four lanes in a reinforced concrete construction.[3]

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