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Thursday, 22 January 2015

PART 3 Humansdorp: - The Fiscal Division of Humansdorp contains 190 square miles, and the census division a population of 5120 white and 8879 coloured. The principal products are wool, mohair, ostrich feathers mealies, tobacco, oathay, fruits, butter, horned cattle, sheep, goats, ostriches. The annual average rainfall is 25.8 ins. And the wettest month is May. Humansdorp Station and Township, 50 miles W.S.W of Port Elizabeth.Lat.S.34deg.2min., long.E24deg.46min. Height 360ft. The principal town on the line at present and the chief in the Fiscal and Census Divisions. It is nine miles from the seaside and is a flourishing little place with good shops, stores and hotels, streets shaded with trees, plenty of water and very healthy. There are P.O., T.O. AND M.O.O. and Civil Commissioner and Resident Magistracy. Population Whites 482, Coloured 400. Some Typical Returns.- HUMANSDORP- Oathay,1763516 bundles, mealies 15332 muids ,dried fruits 16891 lbs. wool 187759 lbs. Cattle 18568,horses,mules,etc.,4488,sheep 44707,goats 16431,ostriches 8401, fresh fruit, oranges 5146516,apples 2800400,other fruits 1066000. Storms River or Zitzikama. Hamlet and P.O. 57 west of Humansdorp. Coldstream. Saw Mills and Village 14 miles from Assegai Bosch. The nature of the country, although apparently verdant enough ,seems somehow to be unsatisfactory from the farmer’s point of view if one were to judge by the class of yeomen who presented themselves ,as they usually do when a train arrives at country places. Among them appear many of the class known as “poor whites” and some coloured persons also apparently holding small areas of land and eking there out a bare living with very little for the market. Authorities on the country side explained that in times past the farming community in many parts of the Long Kloof had been obliged to relinquish their callings and seek better outlooks owning to the difficulties of transport. Now that the railway has arrived all this is being altered. Indeed a vast change is apparent and many of these second rate husbandmen have recently parted with their badly cultivated areas to up-to-date farmers at excellent prices. Assegai-Avontuur:- It is not difficult to imagine the time when a few years hence this line to Avontuur will (perhaps on a broader gauge) be conveying its daily modicum of a thousand passengers and its hundreds of thousands of tons of freight annually. The important little village of Assegai Bosch will then have developed into a much more important town with improved cross country roads. So far as the natural advantages of the place are concerned there is no impediment in the way of its rapid advancement. The soil seems capable of growing anything from mustard and cress to oranges and lemons, apples and walnuts. The enterprising landlord of the home-like hotel was laying out his extensive grounds as fruit orchards and garden plots. A curious, destructive vegetarian bird orange growers in this district much trouble. What he lives on when oranges are non-est we trow not, but from his voracity in the citrus season he appeared to be making up for lost time. We sat under a full grown tree laden with ripe oranges in the hope of seeing one of these birds feast, but although several were at work we could hear the sucking noise they made as they extracted the pulp from the rind, we got no other physical proof of their existence than a bang on the side of the head from one of the emptied oranges as it dropped from branch to branch towards the ground. Close to the orange grove is a large flourishing willow, originally cut from a tree growing over Napoleon Bonaparte’s grave at St Heleana, before his remains were removed to Paris. It was planted here by the original owner of the place Mons.H.Dassonville, on his return from a visit to France and St .Heleana. Assegai Bosch to the terminus, an entirely different state of things is noticeable. The farms are larger, cultivation is more extensive and the farmers themselves are of a decidedly superior stamp, possessing first class livestock, plenty of cattle and horses and magnificent teams of trek oxen, yoked to thoroughly serviceable waggons, throughout the Long Kloof, at the nethermost portion of the line, the country is inhabited by well-to-do farming community, the land is exceptionally fertile and is intersected by good cart tracks and roads leading to Uniondale Road and Oudtshoorn and other places. The country generally is adapted to the aims of progressive farmers. On arriving at Avontuur, the traveller will find post cart and private carts (for hire) meeting the train which will enable him to run over to Uniondale Road Station on the Klipplaat -Oudtshoorn line ,and ,if he desires to do so at this stage ,he may proceed by train thence to Oudtshoorn line ,the great ostrich feather district. Avontuur is a characteristic little country town ,swelling to importance through becoming the terminus of the railway and the prospects that it has in the future of closer alliance with everything that concerns commercial Knysna and the well-being of the promising country on all side.’ We leave Mr Burton at this point as he account goes on over the Cape Gauge lines of the Eastern Cape. His book was publish in 1907 thus giving us an insight to the Cape Colony and rail travel in general but for us the travel over ‘The Little Railways’

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