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Cape Town, South Africa

First traffic over the Swartberg Pass, Oudtshoorn, Little Karoo, South Africa

The Swartberg Mountains and the Swartberg Pass have played a unique role in the history of our country. The Oudtshoorn Courant of 16th September, 1886 published this telegram: The Swartberg Pass is now open to carts daily, and to wagons on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – the Government taking no responsibility.

Postcart and Coach

Jan Haak, the owner of the Hotel in Prince Albert, advertised his passenger coach service in the Oudtshoorn Courant. His coach service, constructed by Messrs Deas Bros of Oudtshoorn, was drawn by six mules. The tariff from Oudtshoorn to Prince Albert was £1 – 7s – 6d per passenger. Oudtshoorn had no rail connection, therefore Jan Haak’s mail coach, by way of the pass was used to transport passengers and mail from Oudtshoorn to Cape Town via Prince Albert Road to arrive there a full day earlier.

Each time, when going over the pass, the driver of the coach always stopped at the Droëwaterval to sound his horn and to warn other traffic. He sounded his horn again on entering Prince Albert.

First Motor-Car

The first person in Oudtshoorn to own a motor-car was Dr G. Russel and in 1904 he became the first motorist to traverse the pass.