called Springbokfontein after the many antelope that
visited the area, was laid out in 1862 around a
small hillock in the middle of the valley.
The first white expedition was in 1685 by Simon
van der Stel, governor of the Cape of Good Hope
established 33 years earlier by the Dutch East India
Company (see also his description of the
tree of Kokerboom). Hearing reports of rich copper deposits, he
camped a 5km to the east of the present town of
Springbok, at a spot where he sank three prospecting
shafts. The largest of these shafts, on which he
carved his initials, is a national monument and a
great tourist attraction.
Interest in the riches of the region waned after
this, but several travellers were drawn to this dry
land. They came to hunt, for the adventure of the
wild interior or to spread the Gospel. Jacobus
elephant here in 1760. Hendrik Hop
headed an official expedition in 1761. Willem van
Reenen, lured by tales of copper and gold, came soon
after and found a few white farmers already
established in the Kamiesberge to the south of the
present town of Springbok.
Between 1777 and 1778 the explorer Colonel R.J.
Gordon reached the Gariep river (great river)north
of the Sneeuberg - he named the great river the
Orange river in honour of the ruling House of the
Netherlands. In 1813 John Campbell of the London
Missionary Society travelled through these parts.
As early as 1836, when large numbers of
Boers (farmers) were leaving the eastern
frontier of the Cape Colony on the Great
Trek which took them into the Free State,
Natal and Transvaal, Sir James Alexander
found European settlers at Springbokfontein.
Philips and King from Cape
Town bought part of the Melkboschkuil farm from the Cloete brothers in
1852 and, on the north-western slopes around the present town, established
an open-cast copper mine. Before the
smelting furnace was built, high grade ore
was transported by ox wagon to Hondeklip Bay
on the Atlantic coast.
Parts of the old Copper Road they travelled
can still be seen.
When richer deposits of copper were
discovered at Okiep, 8km to the north of
Springbok, and at Nababeep, 18km to the
north-west, the little village of Springbokfontein suffered
and its development slowed down.
Plans for the town were laid out in
1862 and four years later a smelting furnace was constructed in
gap in the ridges to the north-east of the
town. For years this smelting furnace
was to prove
a boon to the town. When it came into
production the farmers of the district once
more had an extra source of income, as in
the days of transport riding, but now they
set about meeting the demand of the smelting
furnace for hard wood. The Company was
prepared to pay very high prices for
suitable wood in this treeless region. This
furnace, the oldest in Southern Africa, is a
Towards the end of the South African war
(the Anglo-Boer war of 1899-1902) the
British fort built on a koppie (hill) in the
centre of town was
destroyed by dynamite planted by a commando
unit led by General Jan Smuts.
The name Springbokfontein was shortened
to Springbok in 1911.
Today, Springbok plays a key role during
the wild flower season in Namaqualand, as
well as tourism centre for visitors to the
nature reserves and national parks in