It so happened that the Voetspore team last night, March 16, 2020, showed this historical road on the SABC2 channel, visit www.voetspore.co.za or www.voetspore.tv Coincidentally, less than a week after I had written this on my other blog:
The 500 miles from Bulawayo to Mafeking was built at a rate of up to four miles a day by George Pauling and his team. Rhodes bought £250k shares and Alfred Beit a whopping two million. It followed a wagon track best known as The Hunters’ Road through the east of Botswana.
There were many casualties, especially "water boys." Max Sonnenberg from Vryburg converted a rail car into a general goods store and made good money. CGR and SAR operated the line in a foreign country. Amazing how things were done. Tswana chiefs provided protection.
There is another story of railway guys that built a side line, diverted three cars full of whiskey, then pulled up the tracks and took their contraband to Bulawayo by ox-wagon. The theft was only discovered much later when someone came across the three alienated rail cars in the bush.
In the photo: South Africa’s very first Locomotive, Blackie, built by Hawthorn & Leith in Scotland, 1859. Blackie is plinthed on Cape Town Station, where Eric Lomax, visited her in December 1939 where his destiny led him to become The Railway Man.