Located only 6 miles from the port city of Lüderitz on the Atlantic coast, the Namib desert is home to the captivating city of Kolmanskop. In the city, there was also a railway station as the railway between Lüderitz and Keetmanshoop passed through here. It’s all thanks to one of the workers that maintained the railway that Kolmanskop is famous worldwide now.
It was the year 1908 when the Zachariah Leval, the rail worked discovered a shiny stone in the sand. As soon as it caught his attention, he took the stone to his supervisor, Augustus Stauch. Leval believed that Stauch had an answer to what the stone actually was as he was a mineralogist. Stauch did have a guess in fact. He suspected that the stone was a diamond. For this reason, he filed an application for a prospecting license.
It turned out that the stone was indeed a diamond and the first one to have been found in Kolmanskop. Just to make sure one more time, Stauch consulted a mining engineer in Lüderitz. The engineer, Sonke Nissen, confirmed it 100% that the stone was a diamond.
Stauch and Nissen started immediately to acquire the right to mine for diamonds in the city which had an area of around 75 acres. After they secured such rights, they announced it publicly that they had found a diamond beforehand.
As people heard about such news, many diamond-seekers set off to Kolmanskop in hopes of finding anything that would change their lives forever. The stock of diamonds was so large in this city at the time that Kolmanskop became the wealthiest city in Africa in 1910. What’s even more interesting, the population of this city didn’t even exceed 400 people and yet it had more fortune that any other place in Africa.
In 1911, this deserted place had turned into something completely different. It featured electricity, luxury houses, theaters, a post office, a restaurant, a gym, hospitals, a casino, and so on.
The only drawback was the lack of fresh water supply in the city. People had to bring the water in by rail and then pump it into vast storage tanks. However, that didn’t stop the people from moving there to hunt the diamonds.
After uncovering the rare gems from the sand, the workers would then wash the diamonds in huge factories. On average, one or two carats of diamonds would be discovered after ten tons of sand were yielded.
First World War
Before the First World War, the diamonds mining business was going quite smoothly. About five million carats worth of diamonds were discovered. But, when the war started in 1914, diamond prices declined and the business plummeted.
The war became the cause of the end of the diamond mining era. Everyone left Kolmanskop in the following years just like they had gone there. By 1956, Kolmanskop was nothing more than an abandoned ghost town whose houses were almost completely covered with sand.
A few years passed by and then the diamond company De Beers decided to restore some building in 1980. The company took the decision to make an open-air museum there. As a result, Kolmanskopt is now a very popular tourist destination that people love to visit in order to see the houses that are filled with sand. There are also tours in English and German offered in the town from which you can discover a lot more about the history of this small, yet influential town.
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