In 1908, German railway worker Zacharias Lewala stumbled upon a diamond while working in an area of the Namib Desert in southern Namibia (Namibia was a German colony at that time).
After Zacharias informed his supervisor of the find, word quickly spread that the area was rich in diamonds, and German miners began flocking to the area.
The diamonds made the first miners very wealthy, so they decided to shape the mining town after a classic German town, complete with a school, a ballroom, a theater and sports hall, a casino, an ice-factory and a hospital that contained the very first x-ray machine in the Southern Hemisphere.
The residents also built Africa’s first tram – it ran from the mining town (which was called Kolmanskop) to the nearby port town of Lüderitz on Namibia’s west coast.
But the diamond reservoir at Kolmanskop was limited, and after World War I it began to deplete. By 1954 all the diamonds were gone and Kolmanskop was a ghost town.
The sands of time have slowly reclaimed the town since then. Tourists who visit today often walk through knee-deep sand inside the town’s old houses. Kolmanskop is maintained as a tourist attraction by the joint firm NamDeb (Namibia-De Beers).
Check out some pictures of the town below: