|Many tourists travel through Keimoes on route between Gauteng and Cape Town. They see Tierberg and the Water Wheel. Little do they realize that this lush green town in the semi desert consists of more than 120 islands – with people actually living on most of them!Keimoes boasts a rich history. When one uses your imagination, it is easy to picture the Korana chiefs Klaas Lukas and Piet Rooi who used to hide with up to 10 000 stolen livestock on the island maze in the 19th century. That explains the name of one of the koppies – Loerberg. Directly translated this means “Mountain from where one can peep”.
The first of the characteristic water channels was completed in 1883.
|These led to the rapid growth of the settlement. Wheat was grown and the first school opened in 1887. The Mission Church as well as a mill was completed in 1889.
Many a battle were fought during the first and second Korana Wars with the government forces using canons with great success. Hence other names like Kanoneiland and Skanskopeiland. (Canon Island and Barricade Hill Island)
|When one lives on an island, it is not always simple to come and go as you please. The people of Keimoes have had to cope with the whims of the Orange River and its varying levels for many years. One of the milestones in the history of Keimoes is the installation of a pont at Milldrift in 1907 and one at Rooikop Island in 1910.
From early on grape farming was the backbone of agriculture in and around Keimoes. In the early 1900’s the town was known for its “Keimoes-blits” - a famous liquor with an even more famous kick – distilled from hanepoot and crystal grapes.
The latter was the result of efforts of a German settler, Anton Siepker, who almost drowned when he swam through the main stream between Rooikop Island and Keimoes Island.
|Even today, a network of suspension bridges links the islands. In fact, the pupils of Klip Island School have to cross such a bridge every day to get to class. Quite a nerve racking experience when the river is in flood.|
|At one stage sixty of these bridges provided the necessary connection for farmers to bring their produce to the markets. If one takes into account that such a bridge can only bear 100lb of weight at one stage, it becomes clear that farming and transport of freight between the islands must have been no easy task.
The first documented export of produce from Keimoes was when Pat Sexton exported 2000 cases of oranges in 1927 from has farm on Keimoes Island, at the western foot of Tierberg. Today Keimoes is a prime source of table grapes exported to Europe. Floods have been part of life for the people of Keimoes. Most memorable were the ones in 1925, 1934, 1974 and 1988. The story is told of old Mr Gadd, who was clean out of tobacco during a flood in 1920.
|His son Monty ended up swimming all the way from Bradwell Island to the town of Keimoes, through the cold, milling water mass, to get his dad smoking again!|
|The name “Keimoes” means “Big eye”. Two possible explanations are given: that it refers to a permanent fountain near the Roman Catholic Mission station or to the magnificent view of the area from Tierberg. The latter is more widely accepted. Keimoes forms part of the Kai!Garip Municipality, which also includes the towns of Kakamas and Kenhardt.|
|Water: The Orange river has permanent flow of between 50 en 1800 kumek depending on the season. The flow is determined by releases from dams like Bloemhof, Gariep and Van der Kloof Dam. Keimoes is allowed to extract 11 040 473 cubic metres of water annually, for residential, urban and industrial purposes.
Hardly any air pollution. High quality air
Main economic activity: agriculture, mainly table grapes and raisons, also nuts, cotton, lucerne.
Major gap between income of land owners and workers.
Residents: 7123 (Census 1996)