Culture and history info
A farm called "Leliehoek" (English: Lily Corner) was bought from Hermanus Steyn in 1910, and in 1911 Piet de Villiers sold his farm "Naauwpoort" (situated near the Titanic rock) to a company wanting to establish a village there. These two farms were divided into erven and sold for fifty pounds each.
A commission was appointed in 1912 to finalize negotiations, and a decision was made to name the village "Clarens" in honour of President Paul Kruger’s influence in the area. This came about in the following way - during the Free State-Basotho War of 1865 - 1866, five "burghers" from the Transvaal were murdered in the Eastern Free State, and as a result war was declared against the Basotho leader, Moshoeshoe.
Paul Kruger, together with a commando of burghers, defeated the Basotho at the Battle of Naauwpoortnek (near Titanic rock). President Kruger spent his last days as a voluntary exile in the attractive village of Clarens in Switzerland, and thus Clarens was named for this Swiss town. A monument was erected on the farm "Ararat" just outside Clarens, in honour of the five burghers murdered by the Basotho on 29 September 1865, during the siege of Naauwpoort. This monument was later moved to Clarens and placed in the central town square, where it stands to this day.
Large Jurassic dinosaurs lived in the eastern part of Free State about 200-million-years ago, when the giant southern super-continent, Gondwana, was still intact.
From 12 January 2009 the remains of the largest dinosaurs to ever be found on South African soil were discovered in Clarens. Dr Jonah Choineire, a senior researcher at the Evolutionary Studies Institute, said the remains of the large creature were found between the border of Lesotho and South Africa just outside of Clarens.
With the discovery of the fossils, tour guides started giving 2-3 hour dinosaur tours to view the fossils. The Clarens Dinosaur Tour begins with a comprehensive talk on Geology and Paleontology of the region. Viewers then have the opportunity to see a variety of fossils – from teeth, claws and limb bones of the prehistoric giants, to the leaf impressions of ancient ferns – while learning about what the Earth was like during that period and how the different rock layers were formed. The talk is followed by a trip to an ancient trackway, where the fossilized footprints of dinosaurs can be seen and followed.