The Cameron Highlands got its name from William Cameron, a British surveyor who was commissioned by the then colonial government to map out the area in 1885. In a statement concerning his mapping expedition, Cameron mentioned he saw “a vortex in the mountains, while for a (reasonably) wide area we have gentle slopes and plateau land.”
When approached, the late Sir Hugh Low, the Resident of Perak, expressed the wish of developing the flat terrain as a “sanatorium, health resort and open farmland”. A narrow path to “Cameron’s Land” was then carved through the dense jungle. Nothing much happened after that. Forty year later, Sir George Maxwell visited the territory and decided to transform the place into a hill station. A development committee was formed in 1925. Later, a road was constructed from Tapah to the highlands.
The building of the road was a challenge. The crew not only had to deal with the weather; they also had to live with the risk of being down with malaria.
When the road was completed in 1931, the British and the locals moved in to settle on the slopes of the mountain. They were soon followed by teaplanters and vegetable growers who found the fertile soil, good drainage and cool climate to be especially suitable for the growing of their crops. By the mid-1930s, there was a remarkable change in the province: it now had a nine-hole golf course, several cottages, three inns, two schools, a dairy, nurseries, farms, tea estates, a Government Rest House and an Experimental Agricultural Station.
The outpost continued to grow until the outbreak of the Second World War. During the Japanese Occupation (1942–1945), there was hardly any development in the area. When the Japanese withdrew in August 1945, the place underwent a transformation. Today, the hill station not only has an extensive network of roads; it is also the highest point in Malaysia which is accessible by car.