Sandstone Estates' steam trains
Did you know?
Sandstone Estates runs the largest private collection of narrow-gauge steam locomotives in the world.
As you’re driving on the R26 along South Africa’s border with Lesotho, look east and you’ll see the magnificent Maluti Mountains catching the morning sunlight.
Completing the picture – if it’s your lucky day – will be a narrow-gauge steam locomotive chugging past in the distance, twin plumes of black smoke and white-coloured steam trailing in the air. If he sees you, the driver might toot in greeting.
One of South Africa’s greatest privately-owned heritage assets is the Sandstone Estates' steam train collection near Ficksburg in the eastern Free State.
South Africa was once a world leader in steam. Sandstone Estates wants to re-establish South Africa as the Number 1 steam railway destination in the world. They are an integral part of the Steam In Action movement to preserve and rehabilitate many of the great old locomotives that once ran all over the country. The other two big players in South African steam preservation are Reef Steamers and Friends of the Rail.
Understanding the tourism value of this nostalgic form of rail travel, Sandstone Estates have built up a faithful following of overseas steam train enthusiasts who come out to South Africa to attend the various functions laid on throughout the year.
There is also great local support for the trains: every November at the Ficksburg Cherry Festival, Sandstone Estates gets involved and offers a daily schedule of steam runs for visitors. They then get the chance to poke around the many sheds at Sandstone and marvel at the wide range of preserved farm machinery, classic cars and military vehicles on show.
These events, like the Narrow Gauge Steam Gala in April 2011, bring world-class train photographers, steam clubs and out-and-out ‘trainspotters’ from all over the world to Sandstone Estates. And then the party’s on…
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0) 51 933 2235
Steam Heritage Festival:
Tel: +27 (0) 11 805 4692
How to get here
Around the area
Tours to do
Highlight of the event promises to be the inauguration of Sandstone's night train, The Starlight Express.
What will it cost
Package cost for the round-the-clock programme of steam events, including meals but excluding accommodation, for the 9-day festival is R8 000.
Length of stay
What to pack
May time is autumn in South Africa, you're going to outdoors on occasion, so pack something warm - possibly a lined windcheater.
Where to stay
What to eat
The programme package includes hearty farm-cooked meals on Sandstone.
The Stars of Sandstone Steam Heritage Festival, which takes place on the farm between May 8 - 12.