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
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
For the most part, the relationship between the two adjacent towns was cordial but with an undertone of superiority on the part of the residents of Uitenhage. This situation was about to deteriorate. During the 1860s, the state of healthy rivalry degenerated into fierce acrimonious contestation. At issue was the length of rural roads that the Uitenhage Divisional Council was responsible for vis-à-vis Port Elizabeth. Yet another contentious issue was the ownership of the tolls collected on the main roads.
This episode is a timely reminder that rash impetuous decisions must never supplant rational compromises however aggrieved one party feels. A wilful disregard for the truth and the facts would prolong the dispute until wisdom prevailed. This situation is eerily similar to modern disputes about resource allocation a la the NHI.
Main picture: The Wylde Bridge which replaced the Rawson Bridge
The Authorities always have to find a source of revenues to cover the costs of the maintenance of the roads. In the case of vehicles and animals using them, they always have a ready solution: charging a service fee in the form of a toll. In Port Elizabeth, the first toll was installed within four years of Port Elizabeth being established. It was located in Queen Street, just beyond the future Russell Road and commenced operation in August 1824.
Main picture: The old Toll house at the Sunday’s River Bridge on the Grahamstown Road
These recollections are those of a Mr Josephus Winter who occupied various civic positions during his 82 years.
Main picture: Mr Josephus Winter