Some 15 km from the Namibian coastal town of Lüderitz, Kolmanskop used to be a small railway station in 1908, when the railway between Lüderitz and Keetmanshoop was built. It was during this time that a railway worker found a shiny stone, which was later confirmed to be a diamond.
The discovery of diamonds in the area did not stay a secret for long and hordes of diamond seekers and adventurers soon descended on the area. Within a few years Kolmanskop had become one of the wealthiest towns in Africa, with electric power, luxurious stone houses, a casino, a school, a hospital, an ice factory, a theatre, a ballroom, a sport-hall, a bowling alley, a salt-water swimming pool and much more for the less than 400 people that lived here.
In 1908 the southern coastal strip was declared a Restricted Diamond area and mining was industrialised, with the diamond yielding gravel sifted and washed in huge factories.
With the outbreak of the war in 1914, diamond production fell to nearly zero and the former German colony was taken over by South Africa. As the diamond deposits around Kolmanskop were nearing depletion, mining activities were discontinued and all machinery was eventually moved south to the far more profitable diamond areas. The last inhabitant left between 1956 and 1960 and Kolmanskop was abandoned – left unattended, the desert slowly reclaimed its lost territory back.
Kolmanskop is a fantastic location for a well-behaved film and photo crew and makes a great backdrop for fashion shoots.
All images by Gavin McJannet / © Firecracker 2024