Copper dreams built Miami, Arizona

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Early mining in Globe-Miami, Arizona.


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An aerial view of Miami, Arizona. (Andrea Justice photo)

By Andrea Justice

Nugget

It was the quest for gold and silver that first drew attention to the mineral rich area surrounding the Pinal Mountains. The 250-mile ore bearing streak of rocks and soil created the foundation for such mining towns as Morenci, Clifton, Ray, Superior and Globe. Prospectors flocked to the area with dreams of silver riches in a rough territory, but in the end it was copper that conjured inspiration and laid the footings for the establishment of Miami.

On July 11, 1876, the first notice of copper prospecting in the Miami district was made in Globe City’s Arizona Silver Belt, and from that moment on copper stole the spotlight. Toward the end of the nineteenth century silver mining decreased, and the area west of Globe City began to see many successful copper mines.

Inspiration Copper Company and Miami Copper Company began to develop large operations. By 1886, the possible riches of Gila County’s copper had been recognized. Unfortunately transportation of the precious metals proved to be the biggest obstacle. Miners rallied for a railroad. John Black, Commissioner of Immigration for the Territory of Arizona said, “The most serious drawback to copper mining in Gila County is the difficulty of transportation and great cost of shipping.” At that time the nearest railroads were in Wilcox and Casa Grande, both more than 100 miles away.

Transportation needs were met by use of 200 pack animals. The animals transported copper over a narrow trail; the present Miami-Superior highway follows the route of the old trail. Two daily pack trains made their way up and over the treacherous path, with each mule carrying at the most 200 pounds. It is said that each load was only exceeded by one or two barrels of whiskey.

Transportation was also a problem for workers. Miners and their families preferred to live closer to the actual mines, rather than having to travel over bad roads everyday. Most of the men traveled to work on foot. Few miners could afford to keep their horses and the copper mines were located seven miles west of Globe. It was this need that inspired businessman Cleve W. Van Dyke. His idea was to establish a new town closer to the mines, and he expected to make a fortune from this idea. Van Dyke was convinced that a new town would be a profitable blessing for the many miners moving into the region.

By 1907 Van Dyke’s idea of a new town had been embraced by area. He decided to promote his idea throughout the U.S. Van Dyke took advertisements out in newspapers and supplied articles to create enthusiasm and interest. He also decided that the beginnings of the town would have a certain date. Van Dyke called Oct. 11, 1909 Miami Townsite Day. A few days prior to the townsite day the first train arrived on the newly constructed railroad, radically changing transportation for both copper and miners.

As Miami’s proud pioneer investor, Van Dyke organized several special events to celebrate the town’s birth. One of the biggest attractions during the celebration day included a highly anticipated land rush. It was a chance for prospective land owners to claim lots. While most of the land was already owned by Van Dyke and other real estate men in Globe, they were willing to sell for reasonable prices. The Arizona Silver Belt ran a full page ad for the sale on Oct. 1, 1909. The ad marketed the sale as,”The greatest real estate opportunity ever offered to the public in the history of the Southwest.” The ad also relayed that there were millions of tons of copper blocked and ready to be mined. It stated that this was a young man’s chance to make a fortune, and that the lots would be sold cheap, upon easy terms, and the developments in mining assured tremendous increases in property value.

The town of Miami was officially born with streets grated in copper. The town was started and promoted as an undertaking inspired by social idealism. It was advertised as, “A place that would encourage home building, relaxation from the restraint of living 24 hours daily ‘on the works,’ and exercise personal choice in dealing with independent trade concerns.” Over a hundred years after its establishment, Miami and its mines have survived. The town remains a genuine hub for Arizona’s rich mining history.

Materials researched at the Gila County Historical Society. Quotes taken from “A History of the Miami Area, Arizona” by Wilma Gray Sain.

By 1907 Van Dyke’s idea of a new town had been embraced by area. He decided to promote his idea throughout the U.S. Van Dyke took advertisements out in newspapers and supplied articles to create enthusiasm and interest. He also decided that the beginnings of the town would have a certain date. Van Dyke called Oct. 11, 1909 Miami Townsite Day. A few days prior to the townsite day the first train arrived on the newly constructed railroad, radically changing transportation for both copper and miners.

As Miami’s proud pioneer investor, Van Dyke organized several special events to celebrate the town’s birth. One of the biggest attractions during the celebration day included a highly anticipated land rush. It was a chance for prospective land owners to claim lots. While most of the land was already owned by Van Dyke and other real estate men in Globe, they were willing to sell for reasonable prices. The Arizona Silver Belt ran a full page ad for the sale on Oct. 1, 1909. The ad marketed the sale as,”The greatest real estate opportunity ever offered to the public in the history of the Southwest.” The ad also relayed that there were millions of tons of copper blocked and ready to be mined. It stated that this was a young man’s chance to make a fortune, and that the lots would be sold cheap, upon easy terms, and the developments in mining assured tremendous increases in property value.

The town of Miami was officially born with streets grated in copper. The town was started and promoted as an undertaking inspired by social idealism. It was advertised as, “A place that would encourage home building, relaxation from the restraint of living 24 hours daily ‘on the works,’ and exercise personal choice in dealing with independent trade concerns.” Over a hundred years after its establishment, Miami and its mines have survived. The town remains a genuine hub for Arizona’s rich mining history.

Materials researched at the Gila County Historical Society. Quotes taken from “A History of the Miami Area, Arizona” by Wilma Gray Sain.

Courtney (305 Posts)


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