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The Sudden Rise and Fall of Kolmanskop

You might have seen several videos of urban explorers traveling to many abandoned buildings and places. Watching their videos can be scary and intriguing because you will never know what you can find in a place that has not been maintained for many years. But what if you had the opportunity to visit an abandoned town?

You have Kolmanskop, a former diamond-mining town that flourished many decades ago but met an unfortunate accident that put the entire town in disarray. You should know its rich history before you plan a trip to Kolmanskop and look at the beautiful yet eerie ghost town.

A Brief History of Kolmanskop

In 1908, a Namibian railroad worker named Zacheria Lewala discovered a diamond pocket when he was shoveling sands off the railroad tracks. Even when he discovered the diamonds, he was not rewarded or compensated for his discovery. Years after, tons of prospectors managed to set up shop and soon built a town. It was also when the town managed to produce millions of carats per year, which made up at least 11.7% of the total diamond production worldwide.

Ever since discovering the diamonds, it became a prosperous town located in the middle of the desert. The population managed to build different buildings, including a post office and a bakery. Some bakers and butchers provided quality food to the residents of Kolmanskop. Even families in the town were so wealthy that they had a pet ostrich that disturbed other townspeople and pulled a sleigh during Christmas.

The Unexpected Fall of Kolmanskop

While everyone enjoyed their wealth, no one knew that things would start to go bad in Kolmanskop. When German authorities wanted control over the diamonds, they declared a vast area of Namibia a restricted zone, forbidding entry to most people and reserving the rights to a Berlin-based company. The situation worsened when the tribespeople was made to work as laborers to mine diamonds. After every job, they would sleep in cramped compounds for months.

After years of continuous mining, the resources depleted during the 1930s. Two years before the area’s depletion, locals found that the diamond fields were situated on the beach terraces. It made the townspeople of Kolmanskop vacate and abandon the town, leaving most of their homes and possessions behind.

Fast forward to 1956, no one was living in Kolmanskop, and it was finally considered an abandoned town. The dunes near the Lewala railroad tracks made their way into the homes and buildings, filling each structure’s interior with tons of sand.

Kolmanskop ghost town in southern Namibia.

Famous Tourist Attraction

A local private organization called “Ghost Town Tours” was granted the concession to turn Kolmanskop into a tourist attraction. At least 35,000 tourists visit the abandoned town each year, taking photos and checking out the inside of the sand-filled buildings. The money generated from tours goes over to the coastal town of Lüderitz.