Port Elizabeth of Yore: Quarries for Development

Large quantities of rock and stone are only required for extensive civil engineering projects. The first project to require such quantities was the construction of the abortive breakwater in the 1860s. Even greater quantities were required for the new breakwater and quays in the 1920s and 1930s.

With the second and third wave of buildings on the southern side of Main Street, copious quantities of rock were generated. As this construction did not coincide with harbour construction and an alternative use could not be found for this material, it was merely dumped into the Baakens Lagoon, converting the lagoon into a narrow canalised stream.

Main picture: Thomas Bowler’s painting the railway line ferrying stone from the quarry in St. Mary’s cemetery to the breakwater being constructed south of the Baakens River. Interestingly, the painting shows the rail link running through the graveyard.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The History of the Van Stadens Area

The river was named after Marthinus van Staden, one of the area’s pioneering farmers. He was also among the first to plot a rudimentary track through the valley. It is through the steep, winding gorge for which this River is renowned.  

The Van Stadens River rises in the Elandsberge and cuts through the Van Stadens Berg. Just east of the river on the N2 one may see rounded, marine gravels, dating back 30 million years BP, resting on Table Mountain quartzite.

Main picture: The Witteklip Rock which served as a scratching post for elephants and later used for a more mundane purpose as an outspan for wary travellers

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