History of Cameron Highlands

Saw this historical information on some wall plaque. It gave quite a detailed account about William Cameron, a government surveyor who went on an expedition and discover Cameron Highlands which was named after him. I forget where I saw this plaque, so perchance you might bump into it somewhere in the highlands, eh?


In 1885, William Cameron, a government surveyor, went on an expedition into the main range reported finding a plateau with gentle slopes shut in by loftier mountains which from the plateau's elevation of 1,500 to 1,600 feet above sea level, appeared comparatively low. He did not show on a plan where this plateau was: but his route up the Sungai Raja on the Perak side. In subsequent maps, the plateau has been sited in different localities. This of course, was guess work and although we do not know for certain where this plateau is, he was the first man to bring this part of Pahang into history. His first exploration expedition began in February 1885 and completed by 1st September in the same year. The name Cameron Highlands seems justified.

Cameron Highlands

The first mention of a Hill Station appears to be in a minute by the Resident of Perak in 1888. He then expressed the opinion that a 'a good sanatorium' might be found at Cameron highlands where people might build a resort of health, pleasure, gardening of farming purposes. In 1886, a sum of $20,000.00 was estimated for improving and extending the narrow bridle path to the Highlands and again in 1902, provision was made for widening the bridle path up to 34th mile. There must have been some talk of a Hill Station as a High Commissioner minuted 'before any land is given out in the Highlands, the Director of Public Works should select Government reserves, sufficient for future requirements'.

A survey was carried out in 1904, which suggested Lubuk Tamang, now the lake, as the probably site of the plateau. As this elevation is only 3,000 feet, it was evidently realised that was not Cameron's plateau and nothing further happened until 1920 when the Director of Museums let an expedition and reported on Geology, Agriculture and Health.

Later a sketch map was made by the State Engineer compiled from the observations, showed Cameron Highlands situated in the present Tanah Rata and Bintang areas.

Then in 1925, Sir George Maxwell paid a visit and it was decided the area will be developed into a Hill Station. A Development Committee functioned until November 1931. During the period the road was constructed and the district zoned into areas reserved for Department of Agriculture, Town site, Residential site, areas for servicesm National Park, General Administration area, and recreational areas.

Terms of alienation were drawn up and private enterprises applied for land. The Cameron Highlands Development Committee ceased its function at the end of 1931 and since that date the Highlands had been administered just as any other area of the State of Pahang.

An European Assistant District Officer, under the supervision of the District Officer, Lipis, was stationed there since 1st July, 1931. On 14th August, 1931, a considerable area in the Mukim of Tanah Rata was declared to be a full Sanitary Board Area. At the same time an area in Ringlet was made subject to certain sections of the Sanitary Enactment. A Sanitary Board composed of five official and four unofficial members were appointed of administer these areas since their declaration as Sanitary Board Areas.

A total length of 18.63 miles of metalled road, 13.79 miles of unmetalled roads and 90.13 miles of paths were constructed by the Government on the Highlands.

A grant of approximately 5,000 acres was granted to a Company (Boh Company) in the valley of the Sungei Boh in 1929.

The Government Experimental Stations were opened by the Department of Agriculture, Straits and Federated Malay States in early 1926. A small tea factory was erected in 1931.

The average temperature as recorded in 1934 at Cameron Highlands was 72°F (22.22°C) average minimum 56°F (13.33°C). The monthly averaged for both maximum and minimum vary only through a range of about 4°F (2.22°C) but the highest maxima were usually recorded in May and the coldest minima in January and February. The lowest temperature on record was 42°F (5.55°C).

The war in Europe and then followed by the Japanese Occupation and the declaration of the emergency held up development.

Since the termination of the Emergency, the Hill Station is rapidly becoming a very popular resort, not only for residents of this country, but for overseas tourist as well.


I believe this historical information about Cameron Highlands is pretty old but provides and interesting recounting of Cameron Highlands discovery and development way back then. The figures are mostly in the Imperial measurement which I left it as that. I converted the temperature of Fahrenheit to Centigrade, so at least you have some idea of the cold weather of Cameron Highlands back then in comparison to nowadays which is not quite as cold as before.