In the middle of the Namibian desert, a ghost town that once housed German diamond miners is slowly filling up with sand. Photographer Romain Veillon spent a week in the town, called Kolmanskop, capturing images of former houses and shops half-buried in dunes.
“I have been inspired for a long time by abandoned places and the atmosphere that comes with them,” says Veillon. “Kolmanskop is really the most amazing place I have ever seen.”
The town has an incredible story: When diamonds were discovered in 1908, settlers claimed you could even find them at night, glittering in the sand by moonlight. More miners showed up, and eventually the town had everything from a bowling alley to an ice factory and power plant. The local hospital had Africa’s first x-ray machine, which Veillon explains was mostly used to see if miners had swallowed diamonds in an attempt to steal them.
Before World War I, over 2,000 pounds of diamonds were sifted from the local sands. But as the price of the stones later dropped, and supplies dwindled, miners started to head elsewhere. By 1956, the town was abandoned, and the desert slowly started taking over.
“Little by little, the wind is pushing the sand and dunes are moving,” says Veillon. “One day, Kolmanskop could be completely buried under the sand.”
“These photographs represent perfectly what I try to show through my pictures of abandoned places: What used to be and no longer exists,” he adds. “And that humans are just passing through Earth–nature will always have the last word.”