The town was established in 1892 and was named Vereeniging (Union) because the Free State, Transvaal and Cape were “united” through the railway which was completed and crossed the Vaal in 1892. The town grew fast due to the rich coal deposits in the area and the need to accommodate the growing number of workers. Apart from its fast growth rate, it also achieved historical significance as the place where the negotiations to end the Anglo-Boer War took place. However, the resultant Treaty of Vereeniging was subsequently signed in Pretoria. Today, Vereeniging is a flourishing industrial centre and its coal reserves have been estimated at as much as 4 billion tons. Substantial deposits of fireclay, silica and building stone are also mined in the area.
Adventure And Sport
Hiking: The 12,5-km Three Rivers Nature Trail takes hikers along the Klip (Stone), Vaal and Suikerbosrand (“Sugar Bush Ridge”) rivers through an area that is rich in birdlife and plant life.
Vaal Meander: The Vaal Meander traverses the banks of the Vaal River and meets the promise of its motto, “a trip through the countryside”. It offers river rafting, canoeing, abseiling, camping and much, much more. The Meander also has numerous camps and Adventure Bush Camps amid the breathtaking scenery.
Water Sport: The Vaal River provides many other opportunities for water sports, such as canoeing, water skiing and rafting, in fact it is a water-sport enthusiast’s Mecca.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
Klip (“Stone”) River Terrace: The terrace is considered to be one of the most valuable archaeological sites in the world and excavations at the Klip River Terrace uncovered a rich variety of Stone Age implements. Prof C van Riet Lowe discovered the site in 1920.
Leeukuil Palaeontological Site: Important plant fossils were found at the Leeukuil Palaeontological Site. They date back 300 million years and are on display at the Vaal Teknorama Museum.
Redan Rock Engravings: The Redan site dates back to the Stone Age and was declared a national monument in 1972. The site contains some 240 pecked images of geometric shapes. The Vaal Teknorama Museum holds the keys to the site.
Art And Crafts
Vaal Meander: The Meander leads to many of the artists and crafters, shops, markets, restaurants, nurseries and guesthouses in the Meyerton, Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark area. Maps can be obtained from the tourist offices in these towns.
Entertainment And Shopping
River Sun Casino: The River Sun Casino on the banks of the Vaal has several entertainment options, including gambling, an entertainment centre for the children and a nature reserve.
Vereeniging Riverfront: Vereeniging now has its own riverfront that provides all sorts of entertainment for the whole family, from restaurants to ten-pin bowling.
Fauna And Flora
Exotic Waterfowl Park and Riviera Wetlands and Bird Sanctuary: This Park and Bird Sanctuary at the Riverfront houses some 60 species of waterfowl. The entrance is at the Riverfront.
History And Architecture
Cenotaph: The Cenotaph at the Civic Centre in the centre of town commemorates the soldiers who died during both World Wars and in border conflicts.
Concentration Camp Cemetery: The cemetery is the last resting place of many of the women and children who died in concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War.
Maccauvlei: The coal-rich Maccauvlei farm was also once the site of an Anglo-Boer War concentration camp. A memorial to the Canadian soldiers who were killed in that war was erected here. The first power station in the area, as well as the remains of the first railway bridge built over the Vaal River, can also be found here.
Vaal Teknorama Museum: Focussing on industrial development in the area, the Vaal Teknorama is the only museum of its kind in the country. The Van Riet Lowe collection, one of the most important Stone Age implement finds in the world, is on display here. Other displays include the “FW de Klerk Official Gifts” -gifts received by De Klerk during his tenure as President of South Africa and photographs of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960.
Vereeniging Museum: The Vereeniging Museum houses an interesting collection of photographs that were taken during the peace negotiations that ended the Anglo-Boer War in 1902. It also exhibits a display of fossils that were discovered in the coal seams. A tree stump in the grounds of the recreation centre at Vereeniging Refractories Limited marks the spot at which the negotiations took place.
Vereeniging Public Library: The public library now houses a memorial to the parties who signed the Treaty of Vereeniging in 1902. The memorial was first erected on the exact spot where the treaty was signed, but it was later moved to the library.
“Witkop” (White Head) Blockhouse: The ‘Witkop” (White Head) Blockhouse is a relic from the Anglo-Boer War.