Few, if any, of the early gold miners who camped in the Penhalonga Valley so many years ago, could have guessed that their small encampment would lead to a frontier village and to the garden city that is Mutare today. More than 90 years ago, those intrepid men set up camp on Fort Hill. This could be called the first Umtali site, although no permanent settlement was established because of the mining activity in the area.
That site was evacuated in 1891 and a new site selected along the Umtali River. A police camp and Government buildings were erected, a township was declared and 300 stands surveyed.
That settlement, now known as Old Umtali, 10 miles north of the city, retained its importance for five years until March 26, 1896, when they were told that the Beira-Mutare railroad was to be continued through to Harare. People were promised that the line would touch Mutare, but after a survey, it was found that engineering difficulties made a direct line impossible. The town was moved, and compensation was to be given to the land's settlers. The settlers then moved to stands equal in size and relative situation to their existing holdings, and so Mutare was established for the third and last time.
The railway connection reached Mutare in February, 1898 - it remained the terminus until 1899 when the line reached Harare, thus establishing Mutare as the inland port to Zimbabwe.
Mutare was proclaimed a municipality in 1914 and became a city on October 1, 1971. The city has its own thermal power station and plentiful water supplies which come from Lake Alexander and Smallbridge Dam on the Odzani River. It is the administrative and commercial center to Manicaland and the tourist center for the province