In a rather unprepossessing, brick-and-glass shed 1.5km outside Swakopmund on the B2 stands one of the town’s more curious monuments, the Martin Luther steam traction engine (daily 8.30am–4.30pm). It was the country’s first such machine, imported from Germany in 1896 to replace the ox wagons that were being used to transport freight, but the venture was doomed from the outset: since the port facilities in Swakop were not up to unloading such a weight, the engine was diverted to Walvis Bay, where it sat in the port for a few months before taking another three months to struggle the 30km to its destination because it kept sinking into the sand. In 1897, after a few short outings, it ground to an inglorious halt in the sand outside Swakop, on the spot where it is currently housed. Its curious nickname came from the Protestant reformer Martin Luther, who, when being asked to renounce his beliefs or be charged with heresy, uttered the apocryphal words: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”

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