Coen came into existence because of the discovery of gold. The Coen goldfields were proclaimed in 1892 with an area of 43 sq km miles which later increased to 187 sq miles in 1898. The great northern mine produced 52,000 ounces of gold.
Coen has a population of around 400 and makes the perfect rest stop for travellers in Cape York Peninsula. The town has a variety of facilities with shops to stock up on groceries, ice and beverages, a guest house and a popular pub with rooms, a post office and a vehicle repair workshop.
The Exchange Hotel is the focus of social life in the town, look out for the alternative spelling of the pub name on the roof.
The Coen Heritage House is a must for anyone interested in the history of the region. The Heritage House contains an outstanding display of items from the past, photos and interpretive signs relating to the history of local families, the gold rush and building the telegraph line.The building is made from the original materials of the Mein Telegraph Station. A local landowner, Fred Kepple, bought the building from the government, dismantled it and it was rebuilt in Coen by local builder Alf Colman.
In 2007 the Cook Shire Council was given a collection of former Cape York mining equipment. The collection had been acquired in the late 1970's and progressively restored and conserved.The equipment is now on display adjacent to Cape York Heritage House.