Mining in this region of Mpumalanga dates back many centuries, when unknown miners worked quartz reefs in the area for gold.
Proof of these diggings can still be found in this area.
The history of this small delightful village dates back to 1873 when a miner, Alex Patterson, discovered alluvial gold on the farm named Ponieskrantz.
He had left the Mac-Mac area to search for a place that was less congested.
Though the discovery was kept as a secret, the inevitable happened when a second prospector William Trafford also discovered gold close by.
What they had found in this beautiful valley drew optimistic gold panners and prospectors from all over the country and the World (news of gold strikes of this magnitude travel fast !).
On 22nd September 1873 Pilgrim’s Rest was officially proclaimed a gold field and the scatter of tents and rudimentary shacks soon grew into a flourishing little village complete with sturdy brick houses, church, shops, canteens, a newspaper and the well-known Royal Hotel.
The diggers called it Pilgrim’s Rest because here, at last, after so many false trails and faded dreams they had truly found their home.
In due course the alluvial deposits were depleted and the locals turned to forestry, but their village, whose residents still number in the hundreds, has been painstakingly preserved as a “living museum” and major South African tourist venue.