When the line was opened on the 7 April 1891 the route encompassed a series of zigzags, reversing stations and a tunnel. The old steam locaomotives had a tough time on this pass, which was named Laing's Nek after Henry Laing, who farmed on the lower slopes.
To provide the exhausted passangers and railway staff with refreshment a town was laid out at the summit of the pass on the Kwazulu-Natal side of the border. This was called Charlestown in honor of Sir Charles Mitchell, the Governor of Natal and it was in 1894 in a railway carriage between here and Volksrust that the third Swaziland convention was signed.
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