Ohrigstad was founded in 1845 by Andries Hendrik Potgieter and other Cape Dutch Voortrekkers who left the town of Potchefstroom in the old Transvaal Republic when they they heard of a new British Law that extended British authority northwards to latitude 25 degrees south. A fort, water furrows and broad streets were laid out and the new town was named Andries-Ohrigstad. However, floods and mosquitoes (malaria) soon forced the families to abandon the village and to move to Lydenburg. In 1923 a new town was established south-west of the site of the old town after improved measures of controlling malaria had been discovered. The new town developed into an agricultural centre where tobacco, sunflowers, maize, vegetables and orchards of fruit trees thrive. The ruins of the old town can still be seen and the graves of several of the early Voortrekker inhabitants lie north-east of the town.

Archaeology And Palaeontology

Echo Caves: Not only are the Echo Caves lovely to look at but they also have archaeological and historical significance. The caves, used by various groups as a place of refuge, also yielded evidence of early habitation by Stone Age people. However, today large numbers of bats dwell in the caves. The caves owe their name to the echoes that resound when the stalagmites and stalactites are gently tapped, a warning system used by the people who hid in the caves. In 1960, some of the caves were opened to the public. The largest of these caves is 100 m long and 45 m high. Although the caves are privately-owned and the lighting is not as sophisticated as in some other caves, the guides are well informed and the caves are well worth a visit. A museum dedicated to the history of early man has een set up in one of the San rock shelters.

Fauna And Flora

Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve: The Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve is situated on the edge of the greater Drakensberg Escarpment. The 2 563-ha-reserve offers superb hiking trails and excellent conditions for barbell, tilapia, yellow fish, carp and trout-fishing. The grasslands in the reserve are home to birds such as the bokmakierie, rufous-naped lark and chat. Crowned eagles live in the forested areas and jackal buzzards and Cape vultures have made their nests in the surrounding cliffs. Water birds abound on the shores of the lake. Mammals in the reserve include the endangered brown hyena, leopard and many different species of buck and antelope.

History And Architecture

Andries Potgieter Memorial: The Andries Potgieter Memorial honours Andries Potgieter as well as others such as Georgius Ohrig who helped found the village.

Malaria Memorial: The Malaria Memorial commemorates those who lost their lives as a result of malaria during the early days of the town’s history.

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