Laid out on the farms Bergvliet and Rietvlei named after the Voortrekker leader, Louis Trichardt.
The history of Louis Trichardt started at Schoemansdal about 16km further west. Two parties of Voortrekkers, those of Hans van Rensburg and Louis Trichardt reached the southern slopes of the Soutpansberg in 1836. The two groups had quarreled and Van Rensburg’s party moved further east in search of a route to Lourenco Marques and all of them were killed. Trichardt and his party camped near the site of the present day Louis Trichardt for more than a year. In September 1837 Trichardt decided to continue the search for a route to Delagoa Bay, away from British control or influence.
They reached their destination seven months later but out of the party of 53, 27 died of malaria including Louis Trichardt. The route was very difficult and it took them two and a half months to get over the Drakensberg. They had to remove the back wheels of the wagons and slide them down the mountains.
The next Voortrekker party to arrive was that of Hendrik Potgieter, who had quitted Ohrigstad. Certain that the Soutpansberg was far enough from British rule, he selected a site for the capital of his independent republic and called it Zoutpansbergdorp. The town flourished and Portuguese merchants opened shops in the town. The ivory trade was the basis of prosperity. Hendrik Potgieter died in 1852 and the town fell under the control of Stephanus Schoeman, who married the widow of old Potgieter’s son killed at Makapansgat. He changed the name of the village to Schoemansdal in 1855. It became the harbour for lawless ivory hunters and traders who quarreled with the local tribes. Gunrunning also led to trouble. These practices caused unrest amongst the Bavenda and on 15 July 1867 they attacked the town and put it to the torch. The burghers fled to Pietersburg and Marabastad.
This territory then remained in the hands of the Bavenda with their chief Makhato. In 1898 they then rebelled against the Transvaal who were penetrating and laying claim to more land in the north. Chief Mpefu, leader of the insurrection, was defeated near Louis Trichardt. The new administrative centre for the far northern Transvaal on the farms Bergvliet and Rietvlei was named after Louis Trichardt in 1899.
When the Anglo Boer War broke out the same year people moved to Polokwane (Pietersburg) for safety. The Bavenda took revenge for their earlier losses and defeats and raised the village to the ground. After the end of the war the town was rebuilt.
Municipal Area: 56km 2
Main Places of Interest: Buzzard Mountain retreat, salt pans, Soutpansberg!Hangklip Church of the Covenant, Fort Hendrina, Schoemansdal Museum, Ben Lavin Nature Reserve, Wyliespoort and tunnels.
Temperature: 12.4° C- 26.8° C: Rainfall: 600mmlannum: Altitude: 1280
Agricultural Activities: Forestry, vegetables, fruit, livestock and game.
The name Soutpansberg (‘Salt Pan Mountain’) is derived from the large saltpan at the western end. The pan is fed by a strong spring and has been a source of salt from time immemorial. The very first inhabitants of the region were Stone Age San (Bushman) who left their visiting cards in the form of paintings in the rock shelters.
The Albasini Dam on the Luvuvhu River 20km east of the town provides the usual water recreational facilities. The dam was named for the Portuguese trader Joao Albasini who bartered ivory from the Voortrekkers at Schoemansdal and transported it to Delagoa Bay. He lived on his farm at Schoemansdal after the town was destroyed in 1867. His tombstone states that he was ‘the paramount chief of the Knob-noses’, a local tribe. He later moved to the farms
Goedewensch, Luondi and Banana Hill. He is buried near the dam and had his settlement on the top of the hill. To protect himself he borrowed two ship’s cannons from the Boers. When the Boers wanted these back he was worried that he would be attacked if the people knew that the cannons were gone so he had a wooden replicas made which he put in their place and gave the real ones back to the Boers.