Laingsburg, Western Cape
|This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (August 2014)|
A view of Laingsburg
|• Total||723.72 km2 (279.43 sq mi)|
|• Density||7.8/km2 (20/sq mi)|
|Racial makeup (2011)|
|• Black African||8.2%|
|First languages (2011)|
|Postal code (street)||6900|
The original inhabitants of the region were the Khoikhoi herders and the San hunter gatherers. Following the arrival of the early European colonists, the area was settled by Afrikaner Trekboers and Griqua people.
In the 1870s, the government of Prime Minister John Molteno oversaw a massive expansion of the Cape Colony's railway system. The route (chosen by the Prime Minister with a map, pen and ruler) ran past a farm named Vischkuil-aan-de-Buffelsrivier (fishing pond on the Buffalo River) which a man called Stephanus Greeff then bought for the purpose of development.
The line was completed in 1878 and a small siding named Buffelsrivier was built at the farm. With railway access, a town soon began developing. It was soon renamed Nassau to avoid confusion with Buffalo River in East London, and finally changed to the name Laingsburg, after John Laing[disambiguation needed] who was Commissioner of Crown Lands at the time.
1981 Flash flood
On 25 January 1981, in Laingsburg's centennial year, the largest part of the town was swept away within minutes by one of the strongest floods ever experienced in the Great Karoo. After a cloud burst to the north-eastern hinterland, south of the Komsberg, a massive wall of water rushed down the Buffels River and swept away everything it encountered in its way. Animals, humans and their possessions were swept along and later dumped under meters of silt. Hydrologists estimate that a flood in Laingsburg of this magnitude has a recurrence interval of once, on average, every 100 years.
Before the flood, rain initially started with a light drizzle that was welcomed by farmers in the area, since it didn't rain often. But, the soil of the area is of such a nature that it can't absorb much rainwater. The consequence is that water drains directly into the rivers. Water built up in both the Baviaans and Buffels Rivers and their confluence at the little town. The rivers quickly grew from normally small streams to a roaring wall of water almost 6 m high. Within hours the whole town was under water and residents had to fight for their lives.
During the flood ' The Great Trek Monument', which was erected in Laingsburg in the main street in 1938 to honour the 100 year anniversary of the Great Trek, was washed out. In the flood 104 people were killed and only 21 houses in the village survived the flood. After the flood the biggest part of the monument was recovered but the pedestal of the monument disappeared. In June 2015 Andries Gertse recovered by chance the pedestal along the Buffelsriver at the Railroad Bridge. After the flood the monument was re-erected without the original pedestal, but with a new one on a hill on the Buffelsriver next to the N1. With the recovery of the original pedestal the history of the Monument is completed. The municipality and Mayor Wilhelm Theron still have to decide what they are going to do with the recovered pedestal: or to restore the original Monument with it or to put it at the local museum of Laingsburg. ( Source Ronny Van den Hoeck - Pongoa Travel - National Guide South Africa - Hartbeespoortdam)
The town is situated in the Great Karoo, a semi-desert region of South-Africa. The town's total rainfall is about 150mm per year. The main water supply is the Buffels River. Summers are extremely hot and dry, with temperatures usually exceeding 30°C. Winters are crisp to sometimes very cold, with snow occasionally occurring in the surrounding region.