In 1886, when gold was found on the farm Varkensfontein, the owner of the farm, Petrus Marais, was reading Sir Walter Scott’s “The Fortunes of Nigel”. Marais became a major shareholder in the Nigel Gold Mining Company and many of the street names of the town that subsequently developed around the mine were also taken from this book. Until about 1923 the town remained little more than a mining camp but after the Sub Nigel Mine, the richest gold mine in the world, opened up, the town soon expanded. Nigel is strategically located near the steel and energy areas of the province of Mpumalanga and on the main road and rail routes from Gauteng to Durban harbor.
Adventure And Sport
Hiking, Birdwatching: At the Marievale Bird Sanctuary hiking through the sanctuary and birdwatching go hand in hand.
Nigel Recreation Resort: The Recreational Resort has wooden jungle gyms and green lawns and offers lots of opportunities for fun in the sun and the water.
Fauna And Flora
Marievale Bird Sanctuary: Nigel is blessed with an unusual number of perennial floodplains, dams, “vleis” and streams – ideal habitats for wild birds. The Marievale Bird Sanctuary is a well-known wetland area, as are North Pan and Nigel Dam. The 1 000 hectare Marievale Bird Sanctuary on the Blesbokspruit is the peaceful home of some 300 species of birds. Three well-organised hides have been built in the sanctuary. Birds that have been spotted in this wetland area include waterfowl, flamingo, African spoonbill and some of the rare wader migrants from the northern hemisphere.
Nigel Nature Reserve: The reserve on the outskirts of the town is stocked with ostrich, duiker and small herds of springbok and zebra. Ducks and geese frequent the small dam in the reserve. Although the general public may not enter the reserve without prior arrangement, there is a good vantage point on a terrace situated just outside the reserve, in the suburb of Ferryvale.
Aeronautical Museum: Aeronautical fans will enjoy a visit to the Aeronautical Museum at Dunnottar Airport, near Nigel.
Train Museum: The Train Museum is a private endeavor, with an impressive collection of historical trains and can only be visited by prior arrangement or appointment.