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Kolmanskop | Ghost town in world's oldest desert

Kolmanskop is a ghost town in the Namib desert in southern Namibia, a few kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz. It was named after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman. Once a small but very rich mining village, it is now a popular tourist destination run by the joint firm NamDeb (Namibia-De Beers).



In 1908, when Namibia was still under German control, a railroad worker named Zacharias Lewala found a diamond while clearing the track of sand and showed it to his supervisor, the German railroad inspector August Stauch.Soon the region was beset by a diamond rush. Much like the California Gold Rush of the mid 19th century, fortune hunters from far and wide were drawn in by stories of diamonds so plentiful they could be scooped up off the ground. By the end of 1914, five million carats had been extracted from the area, roughly 1,000 kilograms. Driven by the enormous wealth of the first diamond miners, the residents built the village in the architectural style of a German town, with amenities and institutions including a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, skittle-alley, theater and sport-hall, casino, ice factory and the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere, as well as the first tram in Africa. It had a railway link to Lüderitz.



The town declined after World War I when the diamond-field slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954. Due to its location within the restricted area (Sperrgebiet) of the Namib desert, tourists need a permit to enter the town.

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