On the farm Wilgespruit in 1884 the first gold mine on the edge of the Witwatersrand was built. The prospector Fred Struben found a vein of rock which he claimed contained payable gold.
Fred and his brother Harry showed some specimens to President Kruger and started to mine ore from the foot of what they called the Mont d'Or or 'mountain of gold'. The little mine however, proved uneconomic. Its so-called Confidence Reef was unpredictable but while it was being worked its noisy mill attracted many other prospectors to the area of Roodepoort, 'the red pass'.
There was a wild scramble all along the Witwatersrand after George Harrison's fabulous gold discovery in 1886. Several mines came to life in the Roodepoort area and a wild mining camp grew, with the usual grog shops and bawdy houses. In 1904 this untidy collection of shacks became, to its surprise, a municipality. It became a city in 1977 and incorporates within its boundaries Hamberg, Florida and Maraisburg.
Florida is built around a lake created from a marsh which was enlarged by water pumped from the mines.
This lake is the home of numerous waterfowl and bordered by picnic sites. Boating, fishing and swimming are popular here.
The town's local history museum has exhibits of different types of gold in the area. The origianl mine workings at Wilgespruit can be visited by arrangement with the museum.
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