STOP-OVERS ON THE WAGON N7
Dr Roger Stewart, historian
The old wagon N7 highway commenced at Keert de Koe (now Koeberg interchange) and ended in the Copper Mountains, near today’s Springbok. This lecture follows trailblazers to the stopovers they used along the way. For travellers traversing the Sandveld, some relief from the heat and soft sand came from outspans and springs of which two are famous, one is a provincial heritage site and the other not. Heerenlogement is a shallow overhang with a 300-year-old fig tree growing out of a crevice and travellers’ names engraved on the wall. Berghfontein is a spring with two travellers’ names from 1682 engraved on a nearby rock. Meerhoff’s Casteel was an outspan on the wagon N7 in the Hardeveld of Namaqualand. It consisted of a shallow cave, an unreliable spring that provided a small volume of salty, unpleasant smelling water and surrounding veld with virtually no grazing. The outspan was visited by early travellers and then farmer settlers. The most famous visitor to Meerhoff’s Casteel was arguably Simon van der Stel who, in 1685, was in search of copper, which he found near today’s Springbok. If these three stopovers on the wagon N7 could speak, they would tell tales of VOC employees, missionaries, and naturalists in search of real and mythical wonders.