Waterval Boven

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Waterval Boven
Waterval Boven is located in Mpumalanga
Waterval Boven
Waterval Boven
Waterval Boven is located in South Africa
Waterval Boven
Waterval Boven
Coordinates: 25°39′S 30°20′E / 25.650°S 30.333°E / -25.650; 30.333Coordinates: 25°39′S 30°20′E / 25.650°S 30.333°E / -25.650; 30.333
CountrySouth Africa
 • Total38.88 km2 (15.01 sq mi)
 • Total6,178
 • Density160/km2 (410/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
 • Black African83.3%
 • Coloured1.7%
 • Indian/Asian0.8%
 • White14.0%
 • Other0.2%
First languages (2011)
 • Swazi70.9%
 • Afrikaans13.8%
 • English3.4%
 • Zulu3.0%
 • Other9.0%
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code (street)
Area code013

Waterval Boven (officially known as Emgwenya[2]) is a small town situated on the edge of the Escarpment on the banks of the Elands River above the 75m Elands Falls on the railway line from Pretoria to Maputo in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Hence the name, which is Dutch for "above the waterfall".

It is the sister town of Waterval Onder which is at the base of the Escarpment below the waterfall. Both settlements were established in 1895 because of the building of the Pretoria - Delagoa Bay railway line,[3] built by the Netherlands-South African Railway Company (NZASM).


The railway from Komatipoort to Pretoria reached Waterval Boven in March 1894. In order to establish a supply depot, The Transvaal Republic acquired about 78 ha of the farm Doornhoek, lying on either side of the line. Between Waterval Onder and Waterval Boven, the line rises from the Elands River valley and the Lowveld to the eastern edge of the Highveld – 208 metres over a distance of 7.5 km – which necessitated a rack-railway and a steep, curving tunnel over this stretch. This route was later changed to a less severe gradient over a 14 km stretch with two tunnels. After this diversion, the old tunnel was used for road traffic until 1936, when the Elands Pass was built. The original tunnel, and also the bridge just below the tunnel, were proclaimed historical monuments.

The original tunnel

The area is a major rock climbing attraction, with some 650 sport climbing and 150 traditional routes. A lodge with mountain chalets provides accommodation for climbers and visitors, and a comprehensive guide exists to climbs in the area.

Oosterlijn Steam Company, maintained this dramatic piece of history in operation of SAR Class 15F and SAR Class 25NC steam locomotives, as well as the "JAN WINTERVOGEL" the last remaining NZASM steam locomotive. Vintage rail safaris run through the lush tropical lowveld accompanying the course of the Elands River up through the Mpumalanga highlands through trout country enveloping the most scenic and adventuresome steam locomotive routes in Africa. As of 2012 the train is no longer running.

It was reported[by whom?] that the last remaining steam locomotives, 25NC 3476, 19D 2526, GMA/M 4056, 15F 2909, 15F 2985, GCA 2621 were attacked by scrap thieves over the weekend of November 7/8 2015 and all their copper and brass fittings stolen.

In October 2009, Waterval Boven (along with other Mpumalanga towns) underwent a name change. In Waterval Boven's case, the town was renamed after its township, Emgwenya.


  1. ^ a b c d "Main Place Waterval Boven". Census 2011.
  2. ^ "AfriForum petitions against name changes". Mail & Guardian Online. Nov 2, 2009.
  3. ^ "Waterval Onder Information". Where to Stay. Retrieved 21 January 2014.

External links[edit]