Pilgrim’s Rest is a historical gold-mining town located in South Africa. In the year 1873, the digger Alec Patterson was roaming the densely forested hills, all the while pushing a wheelbarrow with his belongings. At a place later called “Pilgrim’s Creek” he got lucky. He saw big lumps of gold shimmering in the clear water. Full of joy he exclaimed “The pilgrim can rest!” Soon thereafter, the gold rush started. Diggers from all over the world flocked to Pilgrim’s Rest and settled along the river. The town developed rapidly.
The gold finds of Pilgrim’s Rest turned out to be the richest alluvial gold deposits (surface gold) in southern Africa. In 1895 the Transvaal Gold Mining Estate Ltd was founded and bought successively all the claims of the diggers, most of them only about 50 sqm in size. The company worked profitably until the middle of the 20th century. Eventually, in 1971 the resources were exhausted and the operation was shut down.
In 1972 the former company town of Pilgrim’s Rest was bought by the government and declared a National Monument. The old buildings were meticulously restored, preserving the special character of the place with its tin-roofed cottages.
Visitors can nowadays walk through various of theses houses, e.g. the “Miner’s House”, a typical, very humbly furnished dwelling of a gold digger. Or “Alanglade”, which used to be the residence of the director of the Transvaal Gold Mining Estate Ltd, furnished with pieces of the 1920s. The “Drezden Shop” is the town’s historic general store. Here one could buy anything, groceries, whisky, tools, household articles and much more. A lot of old merchandise is exhibited in the store. The old newspaper printing office and the Royal Hotel are also open to visitors. And at Pilgrim’s Creek visitors can still today try their luck at gold washing.