Kolmanskop began as Coleman's Hill after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman abandoned his ox wagon on a hill opposite the settlement during a sandstorm. In 1908, black worker Zacharias Lewala found a diamond while working in the area. Then, showed it to his supervisor, German railroad inspector August Stauch. Soon after, German miners began to settle in the area. Within two years, Kolmanskop in Namibia, Africa was born.
The first diamond miners used their enormous wealth to build a village in a German architectural style. It was complete with a ballroom, power station, butchery, theater, casino, ice factory, soda water and lemonade plant, swimming pool, playground, hospital with with the first x-ray station in the southern hemisphere, bowling alley, school, bakery, exclusive residential buildings and the first tram in Africa. 1,000 kg diamonds were being processed in factories. Some 700 families lived in the town, including about 300 German adults, 40 children and 800 Owambo contract workers.
After World War I, the town began to decline due to the diamond field slowly being exhausted. Larger diamonds were being discovered to the south near Oranjemund, leaving Kolmanskop ultimately abandoned by 1954. In 1980, the mining company De Beers, restored a number of buildings, and established and interesting museum, which has now become a tourist attraction.
Today, Kolmanskop is slowly being reclaimed by the desert. Tourists walk through houses knee-deep in sand. Several structures are still standing including the hospital, butchery, school and residences. Sand may be gradually wiping the slate clean but it doesn't seem to deter the ghosts who reportedly haunt the old mining town. Visitors have experienced hearing whispers and footsteps. Saw and was touched by apparitions. Like any mining town, there were deaths by accidents and, in this case, extreme heat exposure.
It is possible to tour Kolmanskop. However, the town is located in a restricted diamond area. You will have to get a special permit. These permits can be obtained in nearby Lüderitz on the day of your visit.