Historic Building Survey Report: Flat, Alaska
Alaska Open File Report #64
In July and August of 1993, staff from the Alaska Archaeological Survey unit of the Office of History and Archaeology (OHA), Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, conducted a historic structures survey in the town of Flat, Alaska. The survey was carried out under a Cooperative Agreement between the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management and the State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources to document and evaluate historic properties associated with the lditarod National Historic Trail.
Located in southwest Alaska between the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers, Flat was the largest mining camp in the lditarod mining district. Gold was discovered in Otter Creek in the winter of 1908 and the town of lditarod developed as the supply center for lhe district. Flat began as a small mining camp at the confluence of Flat and Otter creeks. By the 1920s, it supplanted lditarod as the supply center and largest town in the lditarod district. The residents built the town on mining claims. Flat also became an important destination on the lditarod Trail, which linked the remote mining camps and towns between Seward and Nome. Tbe claim holders and large scale mining operators blocked efforts to incorporate the town and Flat was never platted. Gold mining activity focused on the creeks surrounding Flat until the 1920s, when rich gold bearing gravels were discovered under the town. Between the l 920s and the 1960s, natural disasters and several mining operators conducted large scale mining within the town, forcing merchants and residents to move their buildings. Over the years, mining activity transformed the appearance of the town. The buildings, structures and sites that survive illustrate the historic themes of ruining, commerce and community development.
During the 1993 survey, OBA staff inventoried 110 buildings, structures and sites in the town of Flat. They include 26 properties associated with mining activities, 24 properties associated with commerce, 61 properties used as residences, and nine properties associated with public buildings or facilities, such as the school, hospital, community hall, and post office. Ninety-nine of the properties date from 1910 to 1945, including 20 properties from the 1910s, 36 properties from the 1920s, 39 properties from the 1930s, and four properties from 1940 to 1945. More than half of Flat's buildings and structures were moved ac least once due to natural disasters and mining activities, a:nd many were moved two or three times. The historic fabric that remains in Flat is a second or third generation mining camp dating from the l930s and early 1940s. The frontier street-scapes of the 1910s have disappeared.
Thirty-seven properties were inventoried at four mining camps in the immediate area around Flat. Buildings, stmctures and sites documented near Flat date from the 1910s to the 1970s. They include 19 properties associated with the Riley/Otter Creek Camp, six properties associated with the Discovery/Peter Miscovich Camp, one structure associated with the Riley Dredge, five properties associated with the Golden Hom Mine, and six properties associated with the Fullerton Camp on lower Flat Creek. These four camps and the Riley Dredge include two properties dating from the 1910s, six properties dating from the 1920s, 14 properties dating from the 1930s, and one property dating from 1940-1945. Most of these buildings, structures and sites have heen moved, providing additional evidence of a tradition in the Flat area of moving buildings and structures.