© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Innovative and exciting research by critical human geographers has brought tactility into focus. Seen against the backdrop of recent theorizing about power topologies, the prospect of novel analyses of contact, touch, and intimacy raises demanding questions for spatial theory. Action in rural space deserves attention within this emerging literature: if ‘tactile topologies’ are constitutive of space, a matter for research is how they emerge – and are drawn upon and re-produced – in the rural. This article's intervention is based on an exploration of the centrality of tactility to topological transformations in rural space during the first years of the Union of South Africa. Using archival materials alongside diverse contributions from historians, the article demonstrates how ‘tactile topologies of the rural’ animated and therefore shaped a wide range of calculations and actions. By focusing on ‘intra-actions’ between human and non-human actors within numerous ‘microcalities,’ the article prompts scholars in rural studies to imagine how a focus on tactility might enrich analyses of a wide range of other topological scenes.