The story of Cleve Van Dyke, founder of Miami


Originally from Saint Paul, Minn., Cleve Van Dyke first came to Arizona in 1905 when he was hired by a real estate and development company in southern Arizona to help lay out the model town of “Warren” near Bisbee. 

In this development project, he was involved primarily in the construction of the Warren-Bisbee Electric Railway, sewers and electric lighting systems. When his part of Warren project was completed, he set out to develop another town in Arizona that would be his own and came to the Miami area in the fall of l908. 

Van Dyke decided this is where he wanted to develop and promote his new mining community. Property rights for the project were purchased from the Miami Land and Improvement Company consisting of nine mining claims located on land, which later received title from U.S. patents. J.W. Wentworth who was the clerk of the U.S. District Court in Globe was the secretary of the Miami Land and Improvement Company involved in this transaction

Van Dyke and his brother Leslie were the major shareholders in a network of corporations they owned in Miami used to sell lots for residential and commercial use. As President of the Miami Townsite Company, Van Dyke started preparations for the building of the town in the fall of 1908 but didn’t put lot sales on the market place until Oct.r 11, 1909. 

Nearly all of the lots sold by Van Dyke did not have mineral rights except for a very small area. Property owners were given deeds that said they owned the surface to a depth of 40 feet. The deeds also said in the event of underground mining, the miner was not liable for any surface damage. Van Dyke did this because of possible future mining under the town. 

This was all changed in the l980s, when a court order was issued to resolve a dispute launched by then Miami Mayor Katie Weimer and the Miami Town Council, which strongly objected to the continuation of these property restrictions in deeds from the Van Dyke interests. 

The new Superior Court order granted all owners in Miami that their surface to ground rights would now extend to a depth of 500 feet and most surface liability clauses protecting any subsurface miner were eliminated. 

As President of the Van Dyke Copper Company, Van Dyke began his copper mining operations under the town some years later by sinking a shaft which in the year 1919 reached a depth of 1,692 feet at the north end of Miami. The Van Dyke mine ceased production in the year 1921 because of low copper prices. 

The mine resumed operations in 1928 but closed down in 1931 during the great depression. It was not until April 1943 when the Van Dyke copper mine started operating once again but closed in June of 1945. Van Dyke died that year in Los Angeles, Calif. — he was born May 17, 1875. 

Over its lifetime, his underground mine at Miami produced 11,851,700 pounds of copper. It was in 1913 thata Van Dyke also decided to be newspaper publisher and purchased the Arizona Silver Belt Newspaper in Globe and moved to Miami with its operations eventually located in a one-story rectangle building on Sullivan Street west of the J.C. Penny building. 

The first edition of the Silver Belt printed in Miami was put out by citizen volunteers and mailed from the Miami post office. Although Van Dyke died in 1945, his family continued to operate the Arizona Silver Belt until 1961 when they sold it to the corporation which owned the Arizona Record Newspaper in Globe. The two newspapers continued to operate in the community until 1976. 

The Arizona Record owners decided to shut down their original newspaper and moved the Arizona Silver Belt to its present location on Pine Street in Globe. The old building the Silver Belt was in at Miami sat empty for years under the ownership of the Lazovich estate as well as many other buildings in town under the same ownership It was around 1984 when the Board of Directors of the J.C. Penny Company, at the request of the Miami HUD program, decided to donate their building in the town of Miami in exchange for the town paying for an appraisal of the property to meet IRS tax write off requirements. 

Later, at the request of Miami HUD, the town acquired the old Silver Belt offices from heirs in the local Estate and later used it as a warehouse for Modern Industries, which decided to move into the former J.C. Penny building with 75 workers manufacturing aircraft parts for Hughes Aircraft of Long Beach, Convair of San Diego and other air craft parts users. 

There is an interesting file being kept by the Hayden Library at Arizona State University in Tempe. It is file MSS-118 called Cleve Van Dyke Papers from 1913 to 1960. The collection includes Van Dykes’s Diary and 27 boxes filled with his personal paperwork and his business operations. 

(Sources: Arizona Silver Belt December 18, 1915, Arizona Silver Belt April 1943, The100th Anniversary Edition of the Arizona Silver Belt, Cleve Van Dyke Papers MSS-118 Hayden Library ASU, information from former Chief Title Officer First American Title Globe, Miami HUD program.)

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