Egyptian Collection

Bains Kloof Pass

Bains Kloof Pass

Andrew Geddes Bain:

A temporary resident of Wellington, but one whose name became indelibly linked with the town, was Andrew Geddes Bain, the first man build a road across the Limiet Mountains, the main barrier between the Cape Settlement and the interior.

Bain achieved this remarkable feat without any formal engineering training. Bain's Kloof Pass is a National Monument which blends in perfectly with its natural surroundings.

Bains Versatile Nature:

With the recent discovery of significant tracks of a mammal-like reptile that lived in the Eastern Cape more than 250 million years ago, there was focus on Andrew Geddes Bain as paleontologist. The discovery of the reptile's ancient trail of footprints - or fossil "track way" - was made near Fort Beaufort during 2002. The "dicynodont" was about the height of a big domestic pig and about 1,8 metres in length. This ancient reptile roamed the Karoo about 253 million years ago. Andrew Geddes Bain made the first discovery of a dicynodont's fossil during 1838, south of Fort Beaufort.

The following is an extract from the book LIFE ETCHED IN STONE:

"The next recorded vertebrate fossil discoveries from South Africa come from the activities of a road engineer, Andrew Geddes Bain, who can rightly be called the father of South African paleontology. He had a copy of Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology and with characteristic enthusiasm had decided to search for fossils in his spare time. His first discovery was made in 1838 on the farm Mildenhall, to the South of Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape. This was an herbivorous mammal like reptile, later named Dicynodon bainii.

His occupation as a road engineer building the Ecca Pass, afforded him the opportunity to collect a number of both large and small fossil reptile skulls as well as fossilized wood specimens. While investigating an exposed bone poling out of the rock, he discovered additional bones and eventually a skull with a very impressive jaw filled with teeth. Bain designated it the name "Blinkwater Monster" as it was found at "a beautiful spot called Blinkwater". News of the find spread rapidly amongst local folk and the find was also reported in the local newspaper with a sketch, made by Bain, of the fossil. The original sketch is presently on display in the Fort Beaufort Museum.

Bain's fossil was later sent to the Geological Society of London. The fossil was housed at the British Museum (Natural History) in London and, just to make the story interesting, the skull was at some stage thrown away by a cleaning lady who mistook it for an insignificant rock. Fortunately a number of casts were made of the skull before it disappeared, a copy of which is presently in the Albany Museum in Grahams town."

Design by Art-FX, 2005