Louisiana Purchase in 1803 led the way for Iowa to become a state in 1846.
Before that time, the land was prairie where the buffalo roamed and many native
Americans including the Iowa, Sac and Mesquaki lived and hunted. In 1870,
the area now known as Clive was part of the Flynn Farm (1870). Land in the Clive
area was platted in 1880 and the first plat in the city was filed on January 18,
1882. Development in this area was spearheaded by Des Moines businessmen
Jefferson Polk and Frederick Hubbell who formed the Union Land Company, "to
purchase coal lands, stone quarries, land for town sites and land generally in
the state of Iowa." They and other businessmen worked to develop
Iowa's railway system between 1881 and 1882. The St. Louis-Des Moines
Northern Railway (a narrow gauge line) laid tracks from Des Moines to Clive and
on to Waukee and eventually extending to Panora and Fonda with a branch running
from Clive to Boone.
In 1881, the area was the site of coal mines of the Gibson Coal Company, which
extended from the present 69th Street to 78th Street. Although most of the
area residents were farmers, it was the railroads that fostered the development
of communities and towns. The first postmaster at the Clive Depot was
Thomas Neff, who began his duties on February 8, 1882. About 20 families
made up the community.
Property was bought and businesses were built near the depot. A general
store was one of the first businesses to open (probably in the late 1880s, but
the exact date is not known) directly across from the depot. In the early
1900s, there were two streets in Clive" Broad Street which ran north
and south (later known as Clive Road and 86th Street), and Harbach( the same
section of Harbach where the Dymond Public Safety Center is now located.
At least two general stores and a blacksmith shop were located directly across
the street from the depot. By 1922-1923 the population of the community of
Clive was about 150 people. Clive would remain a small community for
Through the years the post office moved from the depot to each of the general
stores and finally a building all its own.
On August 18, 1956, Clive officially became a City after there had been some
discussion by West Des Moines to annex Clive. At the time Clive covered 3
square miles and George Lundberg was the first mayor of Clive. When it
snowed he also cleaned the streets with the city grader. The first city
hall was located at 81st Street and University Blvd on the northwest
The area's first school was built in 1848 at what is now 73rd Street and
University. About 1900 the school was moved to Clive Road (86th Street
where Ryan's Steak House is now located). In 1962 the schools merged with West
Des Moines School District because tuition costs per student was becoming
One of the biggest factors for future growth of Clive would be the development
of the Interstate highway system (1960s) that runs through Clive and the
development of the I-235 Freeway (1970s) what passes through the neighboring
city of West Des Moines to the south. Old "Clive Road"
would become 86th Street which eventually became a major corridor connecting
Clive with West Des Moines and Urbandale.
Annexations in recent years have added to the incorporated City of Clive, thus
taking boundaries west and north to Waukee and Urbandale.