It was established in the early days of the gold rush when two prospectors, John Jack from the farm of Germiston near Glasgow and August Simmer from Vacha in Germany, struck paydirt on the farm of Elandsfontein. In August 1887, the pair were on their way to the Eastern Transvaal when they outspanned (rest the pack animals) on the farm Elandsfontein and decided to stay and buy the land.: 285 Both men made fortunes and the town sprang up 2 km from the Simmer and Jack mine named after Jack's fathers farm.: 285
In 1921, the world's largest gold refinery, the Rand Refinery, was established at Germiston. Seventy percent of the western world's gold passes through this refinery. Although gold mining gradually wound down in Germiston, to the point that by the end of the 20th century it was no longer a mining centre, the Rand Refinery remains as busy as ever.