Robbers Pass, also known as Robber’s Road, is a historic mountain pass located near the town of Pilgrim’s Rest in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
The pass played a significant role in the region’s history during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
During the late 1800s, Pilgrim’s Rest was a bustling gold mining town, and the surrounding area was rich in gold deposits. The town attracted thousands of prospectors from all over the world, hoping to strike it rich. As a result, there was a constant flow of gold being transported from the mines to the banks and other destinations.
Robbers Pass, with its rugged terrain and dense vegetation, provided an ideal location for criminals and bandits to stage ambushes and robberies. The pass was known for its treacherous conditions, making it difficult for travellers to navigate safely. Bandits would lie in wait, targeting gold-laden wagons and individuals travelling with valuable possessions.
The pass gained notoriety as a dangerous route, and the authorities struggled to maintain law and order in the area. Local farmers and mine owners formed vigilante groups to protect the convoys and deter criminals, but robberies still occurred with alarming frequency.
In 1898, the situation reached a boiling point when a gang of notorious outlaws known as the “MacMac Gang” terrorized the region. Led by the infamous outlaw Jack MacArthur, the gang targeted wagons, coaches, and individuals passing through Robbers Pass. They would ambush their victims, steal their valuables, and sometimes even murder them.
The South African government recognized the urgent need to tackle the lawlessness in the region. In response, they dispatched a contingent of soldiers and police to patrol the pass and surrounding areas, aiming to restore order and protect travellers. The authorities’ presence significantly reduced the number of robberies, and the pass gradually became safer to traverse.
Today, Robbers Pass serves as a historical landmark and a reminder of the region’s gold rush era. The pass offers scenic views and is a popular tourist attraction, allowing visitors to experience the challenges and dangers faced by travellers in the past. It stands as a testament to the perseverance and determination of the early pioneers who sought their fortunes in the goldfields of Pilgrim’s Rest.