The Namib Desert ghost towns of Kolmanskop and Elizabeth Bay are continuously battered by haunting winds and surrounded shifting sand. Frayed strands of electric wire and dry rusted water pipes hang from the wails of these derelict, empty houses. Dusty light bulbs hang on skeletal cords which swing two and fourth from the old kranky ceilings in the desert winds. Refrigerators, stoves and old broken appliances lean at crooked angles protruding from the sand piles which move about the old wooden floors the water taps have run dry.
The houses have been vandalized over the years, as though adventurers and looters were looking for hidden treasure. Inhabitants and locals living in the nearby seaside town of Luderitz still whisper about hidden hoards of diamonds that have never been found or simply disappeared into the windy dark desert night.
In the beginning of 1900s Kolmanskop was inhabited by just over 700 families and each morning the ice-vendor came down the streets to deliver the daily ration of ice-blocks and cold drinks. Each household and business had their quota and by the time it was delivered it was smothered in desert sand.
The sand had to be controlled like snow but unfortunately was solid and did not melt. Large metal screens were erected around the gardens and on the corners of the houses and buildings to help keep the sand at bay. Specially designated sand-clearing squads cleared the streets on a daily basis and were welcomed by the locals.
Up until the beginning of the First World War Kolmanskop was the headquarters of the South-Western Diamond Industry which was flourishing. The salaries and bonuses were excellent and just about everything was free of charge. The company houses, milk deliveries, medical benefits, daily ice, cold refreshments and free education were many of the fringe benefits granted by the mining magnates to their employees.
But eventually the diamond diggings around Kolmanskop started yielding less and less diamonds and the mining magnates started lowering salaries and withdrawing the benefits. So families started to move away until one day the sand-clearing squad failed to turn up, the ice-mans ice melted and the school bell rang no more.
Undisturbed by the change of fortune the wind continued to blow along the deserted streets as it had since time had begun. As time moved on the metal screens collapsed and the pretty gardens became part of the desert. The well-kept streets were buried under the sand along with sand-clearing squads clearing equipment. Doors creaked and eventually fell off their hinges and windows panes glinted daily and stared sadly across the lonely wilderness. This was the birth of Namibia’s ghost town.