Due to the discovery of diamonds in 1908 around Kolmanskuppe, an uncontrollable diamond rush resulted forcing the Government to establish the “Sperrgebiet” between 26-degree (Gibraltar) and the southern border stretching 100 kilometers inland. Prospectors were forced to turn northwards beyond the Sperrgebiet. This resulted in the discovery of diamonds at Spencer Bay in December 1908 and between Meob and the Conception Bay area (Diamond area no 2). A total of 5000 diamond claims were registered in 1909 and hopeful prospectors tried their luck at Saddle Hill and Spencer Bay as well as via Swakopmund and Sandwich Harbour southwards towards Meob Bay. However, the small yields of diamonds from these claims resulted in only a few prospectors in the being successful in the long term.
Transporting of supplies and mine equipment was done mainly from Swakopmund by ship and the cutter Viking via Sandwich Harbour, Conception Bay and Meob Bay. Various shipping casualties occurred, such as when the Eduard Bohlen intended to off-load mining equipment and were consequently lost at Conception Bay (1909).
In the area between Conception Bay and Meob Bay the mining settlements of Holsatia, Charlottenfelder and Grillenberger were established and no form of engine-driven transport was available during the first 15 years. An ox-wagon fitted with special wide iron bands, to make transportation in sandy areas possible, is visible north off Grillenberger. The wagon and surf boats at Meob Bay are examples of pre-World War I historical relics depicting the immense difficult pioneering days in those inhospitable desert conditions.
During 1912/1913 a light railway from Conception Bay to Conception Water and an 80-kilometer pipeline linking the settlements were constructed. It is not totally clear as to how many pre-fabricated buildings were erected at the various settlements as only the foundations of some of these are still visible today.
In November 1914 all people in this area were requested to stop operations and to proceed to Swakopmund up-country. This order came as a result of an expected invasion of allied troops. During 1920 activities recommenced in this area and only four companies operated in this area until De Beers purchased one concession area after the other in 1929. From old mining records it is clear that the average diamond found in this area was much smaller than those found south of Luderitzbucht. Operators made use of hand-operated movable sieve jigs, of which some are still visible at the old mining settlements. They were largely dependent on an Ovambo labour force.
Namaqua Diamonds employed between 500 and 600 Ovambos under contract and they were distributed in gangs of 50 over the extent of the mining area.
In 1932 the price of diamonds dropped considerably and almost all known diamondiferous ground has been worked over at least once. The small diamonds left in the tailings of earlier workers made production uneconomic.
After World War II a company, Industrial Diamonds of South Africa (1945) Ltd., conducted extensive prospecting in the Meob area in which no diamonds were recovered and CDM also abandoned Meob Bay in the early 60s.
Today only some remnants of the activities are visible and are deteriorating at an alarming rate. There is a limited quantity of hand-operated mining equipment left, two surf boats at Meob and an ox-wagon north of Grillenberger giving some insight into the hardships endured by indigenous Namibians and early settlers in Namibia.
Saddle Hill became well known in Namibian diamond operations through the efforts of the remarkable Mose Kahan. The unsinkable Mose was born in Konigsberg, Prussia and after immigrating to South Africa he became involved in prospecting and mining. His application for a concession in Diamond area no 2 was successful and he named his claims Saddle Hill, Ophir and Atlantis. To reach his claims with food and mining supplies, Kahan had to make his way through shifting dunes, which was indeed a hazardous undertaking. After World War II Kahan bought some Ford “stompneus” lorries from surplus war stock, fitting them with Dakota DC3 aircraft tyres. With these low-pressure aircraft tyres he was able to bring supplies and equipment to Saddle Hill. However, one of these lorries, nick named Suzie, unfortunately had to be abandoned in the dunes, today still awaiting the return of a repair crew. Likewise, a Bulldozer, pulling trailers with supplies and equipment can be seen close to the Uri Haugab Mountains.