Kolmanskop is a ghost town in the middle of the Namib desert which attracts thousands of visitors each year who come to marvel at the ruins that have been taken over by the desert.
The town is a few kilometers inland from the port of Lüderitz, and used to be a thriving diamond mining town. Now it is abandoned and barely holding on from being totally consumed by the sands of the desert.
Back in 1908, a rail worker named Zacharias Lewala discovered a diamond in the area and the town soon became a busy hub for diamond mining, until 1954 when the diamond mines dried up.
It used to be a small insignificant town, named after a transport driver called Johnny Coleman who once abandoned his ox wagon on an incline facing the settlement.
It wasn’t famous for much at all until the day that Lewala came across the some shiny rocks. Not sure what they were, he showed them to his supervisor who suspected they were diamonds. Once this was confirmed it wasn’t long before the news spread and the diamond rush was on – fortune hunters from all over came in droves to Kolmanskop hoping to make it rich.
Over time the town developed with large houses being constructed in a German architectural style, along with essential amenities such as a hospital, schools, a power station, a ballroom, sports halls, a casino, an ice factory, theatres, and the first ever x-ray station in the southern hemisphere. Residents could get fresh meat from a butcher, bread from a bakery, and the kids could play in a public playground.
Kolmanskop became the first town in Africa to get a tram, and a railway line provided a link to the port town of Lüderitz. At it’s peak in the 1920’s, the town had 1,200 residents from 700 famililes.
However, things changed after World War I as the diamond mines ran dry and it’s fortune-seeking inhabitants moved on to towns in the south were new and abundant diamond deposits were found.
These days, the town is barely recognizable compared to it’s glory days, with most of the buildings ruined due to the wind and sand. The De Beers mining company started to restore some of the buildings in the 1980, and set up a museum which has became a tourist attraction.
The town now provides some amazing opportunities for photographers and has been used on multiple occasions for scenes in television and movies, such as Dust Devil (1993), and The King Is Alive (2000).