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The Passes Road              
 
 
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History

Completed in 1883, this was the first properly constructed road between George and Knysna. Until then, the 75km journey was a harsh one of deep gorge crossings combined with heavy, thick vegetation.

 

Thomas Bain moved to Knysna in 1861, primarily to build the neighbourhood roads and streets.

 

In 1862, he built a rudimentary road to provide access to the Zuurvlakte Crown Forest. This became known as the Phantom Forest, name after the white Phantom Moth, widely found in the area.

 

The project started in 1867 and was completed in 1882. Progress was complicated and delayed by the dense forest and of course the deep gorges prevalent in the area. Removal of trees was slow and laborious.

 

Rivers flow in deep gorges on their way from the mountains to the sea, and there are seven passes along the way, from which the name is derived. These are the passes crossing the Swart-, Kaaimans- and Silver-, Touw-, Hoogekraal- and Karatara rivers, the Homtini gorge and the Phantom pass.

 

Gold was discovered in the Karatara River in 1875 and the route was adjusted to accommodate the rush. Subsequently, the road dips down the Hooggekraal and Karatara River Valleys.

 

The Homtini gorge is crossed by means of a marvel of a pass, curling its way down for 2,5km to the bottom and then up again through dense indigenous forest.

 

The original Phantom Pass had to be renovated to accommodate the increase in traffic and formed the final link in the 7 Passes Road.

 

It was the main road between George and Knysna for almost 70 years before the N2 through the Wilderness and Sedgefield was completed.

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