A story from 1870 describes O'okiep as follows by ‘ J.S.H' :
....if the natural scenery is dull and uninteresting from its nakedness, the industry is different, and is very striking. After travelling for two days through a country (from Port Nolloth) so naked, and barren and destitute that for miles and miles around you, yourself and your outfit are the only living, moving things on which the eye can rest for relief, you come at once, after topping the low hills, on a scene of animated industry which has no equal in South Africa, or, perhaps, on the Continent of Africa at all - the resultsof which are visible in the acres of pure stone in one immense spread, some ten or twelve feet thick, turned up from the mine, and the large stackes of copper ore, and the great extent of the refuse. There are stores, and offices and stables, and workshops, and large deposites of machinery, and a steam- engine and all its gear in full working, and a church (used also as a school and reading room), and a contractor's store, and an infirmary for the sick, and residences for the mechanics and miners; and in the rocks around the valley are pretty little cottages for the officers; and around the southern and western slopes are the different locations of natives, dwelling in houses of gunny bags, - Hottentots, Fingoes, Mantatees, - each in his own location, and two tribes of Damaras, equally distinct; and at the north a separate location of those fragments of humanity that, cast loose from the main body, pass over the boundry line, and live a sensuous life of illegitmacy. All these, between 800 and 900 souls, and some at Springbok and at greater distances, find direct support from the O'okiep Mines.
Officers of superior and inferior grades; clerks, miners and mine mechanics; stokers and a lower grade of mechanics , and labourers of European race and Native labourers: the latter pass occasionally over the bounbary in life's struggle, the one making slight efforts to struggle upward, and the other making rapid strides downward."