(OUT OF TOWN)
Meiringspoort was officially opened to traffic early on the morning of 3 March 1858 with a colorful procession and a tearful guest of honour – the champagne bottle only broke after the third attempt! The Poort was named after the influential farmer from De Rust, Petrus Johannes Meiring, who tirelessly campaigned for a road through the poort.
This road opened doors for trading between the communities of George, Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn and the farmers to the north. Toll-houses that were built also served as shops and dwelling houses and the first toll-keeper that functioned there for fifteen years became famous as the local herbalist and tooth-extractor! The boom in the wool trade had more than one million kilograms of wool being transported through Meiringspoort by 1870.
To preserve the natural beauty of the Poort, as little blasting as possible was done when the road was tarred from 1966-1971. The stonewalls that maintain the character of the earlier road, were built by 480 migrant workers from the former Ciskei and Transkei.
Some of the best anecdotes about Meiringspoort include stories about leopards roaming the ravines of the Swartberg Mountains, the “finger rock” pointing to the pool where a sinful couple drowned and New Year celeb shallow pools.
Source: Excerpts taken from Meiringspoort, a scenic gorge through the Swartberg Mountain Range by Helena Marincowitz.