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Kolmanskop – Namibia: the remains of diamond fever taken over by the desert.

2 min read

We are in Namibia: people flocked to the area that later became known as Kolmanskop after the discovery of diamonds, in 1908.
Here, Zacharias Lewala, a regular railway worker, picked up what he thought was an unusually shiny stone, and showed it to his supervisor, August Stauch, who immediately applied for a prospector’s license.
Verification confirmed that the first diamond in the region had been found.
The diamonds were in such supply that they could be picked off the ground by bare hands, and soon the area was flooded with men wanting to make their fortune.

As people arrived with high hopes, houses and other facilities were built. The new town, which was German-influenced, saw the construction of ballrooms, casinos, theaters, ice factories, and hospitals, but also the first X-ray station in the southern hemisphere.
Prior to World War I, over 1000 kilos of diamonds were sifted from the sands of the Namib desert, and Kolmanskop became a diamond boom town. During the war, however, the price of diamonds dropped considerably. On top of this, larger diamonds were later found south of Kolmanskop, at the mouth of the Orange River, and of course prospectors drifted away to the new area. By 1956, the town was completely abandoned and the desert began to reclaim back its land.

Today, much of the eerie ghost town is still standing, but the desert sand has blown in and around the deserted buildings, burying some almost completely in sand. It is a popular tourist destination and guided tours take visitors around the town and through the houses which, today, are filled only with sand.
The city is very close to Shark Island, sadly known for its concentration camp….

All photos from Wikipedia – Wikimedia Commons

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