On a canoe trip down the lower Tanana River – ghost city, a crumbling sandbank scrambled up to research a location that’s less populated than it was a century past.
No one, actually, resides at Cos Coat anymore. There’s a cottage-size cache with a tin roof. A couple sagging log constructions sit on a ledge. Among the cottages has lost front wall and its door to the river. Its long ridgepole pointed over the Tanana like a finger.
Across the state, there are tons of positions that are similar. Some, like Kallands, Birches, Kokrines and Grant Creek, aren’t far from Cos Coat, which is about a 1/2 mile downstream from where the Cosna River drops iced tea-coloured water into the Tanana.
Cossacks John who was my great grand father, father to my grandfather, Peter John . He was the founding father of Cosjack and we, my 9 surviving siblings and l inherited acres of our great grandfathers land through the dept of interior. There are also other families that also own land through inhertience on this most beautiful sacred land we call, Cosjacket, AK. Sharing our history of our ancestors to whom lived and survived off of our great land to which we love and respect – Connie Mayo.
In a short tour of Cos Coat, hastened by excellent mosquito density, Alison Beamer, Jason Clark and I discovered the following: treeless regions which could have been gardens, a wooden barrel sealed with pitch that likely arrived by steamship and a fine iron cookstove under a collapsed roof. Jason points out a signal for a survey point on a tree, likely set by an archeologist who mapped Cos Coat.
USGS maps reveal the name Cos Coat, but my GPS screens “Coskakat.” The last variation is when I asked her about the site what a girl from the downriver village of Tanana used.
Not much written history exists regarding Cos Coat. U.S. Army Lt. Henry Allen didn’t mention or map a hamlet when he passed by on his summer excursion in 1885.
The first record of Cos Coat in print may be from an April 15, 1901 edition of the Chicago Tribune in a narrative. A reporter wrote of Army Lt. Joseph Herron’s quest with five other guys from Cook Inlet to the Yukon River.( Chief Ivan of Coschaket is shown at right in this photo from the Drane Family Collection in the UAF Archives. The woman and boy were not identified in the photo, which was taken sometime between 1913 and 1939. (Drane Family Collection / UAF Archives)
At the junction of the Yukon and Tanana, they headed to Fairbanks and set their boat on a steamship. Then they floated back down the Tanana.
Posing as adventuresome tourists during their excursion, Carrington and Sniffen were working for organization. They went undercover “in order that we might see states as they were, and particularly find the approach of the whites toward the Indians.”
“Cross Coat is a fresh settlement. Many Indians are leaving Tanana for this site, and they’re constructing a better level of cottages.”
Some additional effort is shown by the cottages staying at Cos Coat, with spruce logs hewn level on the insides where they join and log ends squared.
Among the main issues was the encroachment of camp followers and white miners who were fishing, hunting and trapping .
Chief Ivan of Crossjacket, afterward a settlement of 15 families used mainly in winter, rejected the notion of Natives being given reserves or homesteads.
“We do not need to go on a booking, but wish to remain absolutely free just as we’re now,” Chief Ivan said at the seminar. None of the other leaders needed bookings and none were formed. Neither were given.
U.S. Census Bureau workers counted 46 folks at Cos Coat in 1929 and 38 a decade after. The town does not appear on census registers after 1939.