The World’s Most Mystifying Ghost Towns: Kolmanskop, Namibia
In Percy Shelley’s acclaimed poem “Ozymandias,” he describes a once-mighty kingdom that now stands “on the sand, half sunk,” inevitably ruined by the hollow values upon which it was founded. That kingdom could very well be Kolmanskop, Namibia. The sand-ridden city’s roots date back to 1908, when a black worker discovered the site’s abundance of diamonds and alerted his superior.
The proceeding events should be familiar to most: Westerns seeking more wealth soon exploited the area’s resources, propping up Western-style towns in the process but making sure to get out of town when the well ran dry. In any event, the diamond industry was such a boom initially that Kolmanskop became the site of the first x-ray station in the southern hemisphere as well as the host of the first tram system in all of Africa.
Material pleasures, however, proved finite when the diamond field was exhausted and people began to abandon it. Thanks to geological forces, it is sand–not splendor–that fills Kolmanskop’s buildings today.