- Free State
A Priceless Town
Jagersfontein is a tiny historic town approximately 110 km south-west of Bloemfontein. Described as nothing less than priceless, Jagersfontein has managed to magically retain the charm of a flourishing mining village of yesteryear!
The rich and notable history of this small town once formed a solid foundation for the town’s value as a tourist destination, but sadly no more. Without the mine, today the deepest open mine pit in the world – yes, larger than the more famous Kimberley Big Hole, there is not much else to see or do in Jagersfontein.
The mine operated between 1871 and 1971 and is the site of the discovery of two of the worlds most famous gems, the Excelsior and the Reitz diamond which are amongst the top ten largest diamonds ever unearthed! The Jagersfontein mine produced an estimated 9 526 million carats worth R260 million in terms of 1970 values!
Visitors can take a trip to this historical village and tour round historical buildings, see the three Herbert Baker buildings, the oldest Free State Masonic building and homes full of character. Perhaps stay the night and enjoy the local hospitality, accommodation can be found in neighbouring towns such as Trompsburg or Fauresmith a few kilometres away.
Things to do and see
- Big Hole Open Mine & Museum
- 1881 Roman Catholic Church
- Masonic Lodge Building
- Sun Street
- Vanderkloof Dam
Jagersfontein receives approximately 439 mm of rain annually with most of its annual rainfall during summer.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 13˚C and 31˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between -1˚C and 21˚C.
In 1870 the first diamond was found in Jagersfontein by a farm worker, De Klerk, on the remote farm belonging to Griqua farmer Jacobus Jagers. This was about three years before Kimberley started, and it was also the first time a diamond was found in its mother stone - blue ground or as it's now known, Kimberlite.
Digging began and Jagersfontein sprang up around an ever deepening hole in the ground and Jagersfontein became a municipality in 1904. Some magnificent diamonds have been found at Jagersfontein, ranging from blue-white to sapphire gemstones of superb quality. The Excelsior stone, found in 1893, weighed 971 carats and, until the Cullinan Diamond was found near Pretoria in 1905, was the largest in the world.
Sadly, for Jagersfontein, the ‘eureka’ moments dried up and the mine closed in 1971.
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