If I told you that someone bought the London Bridge and paid to have it moved to the desert of Arizona, would you believe me? It is true! I am a recent witness to the beauty and majesty of a bridge originally located in England which was disassembled piece by piece and moved 5400 miles. It has become Arizona’s second biggest tourist attraction (the Grand Canyon is number one).
I first became acquainted with Lake Havasu when I was a child. My father had seen an advertisement for a free flight offered by Robert McCulloch, Sr. (1911 – 1977). This rich entrepreneur flew interested persons to the middle of the desert where no roads led. He had planned a whole community in the hot dry heat of Western Arizona. The area had previously been used as a military base. Since my father had served in the Air Corps right after high school, he jumped at the opportunity to go on a free flight. He was one of many prospective land buyers that purchased a plot of desert. I’m sure he bought it in the hopes of building a winter home to get away from cold Utah winters.
I remember traveling to Lake Havasu once there was a paved road that went all the way to Lake Havasu. This lake was the result of the Parker Dam which plugged up the Colorado River running through Arizona all the way to California. Unfortunately, many Indian lands were covered by the new lake and they had to make homes elsewhere.
My husband and I stayed at the Havasu Dunes, a timeshare trade for us. It was comfortable and adequate although not luxurious.
We set out to check out the lake, the London Bridge, and the local museum. It was very interesting to learn about Mr. McCulloch. He bought the London bridge for a bit over $2 million. It had originally spanned the River Thames, but was sinking so was put up for sale. Not something you think about buying every day, but I guess it was on his radar! He was quite a visionary and the London Bridge has been featured in a couple of movies. If you are superstitious, you may see a British police bobby patrolling the bridge at night. Also, it is home to guano (bats) that inhabit the hollow interior.
Once we got near the bridge, we saw many boaters, paddlers, water skiers and a ferry. It was a water lovers paradise!
We decided to take the ferry. It was a great ride and we felt like we were back in Hawaii for a minute, but then realized we were in the middle of the desert. The learned that there were 27 lighthouses in Lake Havasu many of which were replicas of other lighthouses in the United States. We took a ride to see how many we could find. There are still plenty of land plots to purchase, some with water fronts if anyone is interested. We opted to try and pay off our mortgage in Utah before we die!
We took the ferry ride to the other side of the lake. There were plenty of ducks in the lake and the weather was fine. I thought it was a round trip, but we were heard “All ashore!”. So, along with the rest of the passengers, we took to land near a new casino. We were told it would be back soon before the ferry took off. A wind really picked up and the ride back across the lake was a bit bumpy. Safely back on shore, we made our way back through the gates to Lake Havasu and to our little cottage in the dunes.
The museum wasn’t too far from the bridge itself. We enjoyed learning more about the beginnings of Lake Havasu, the actual lake and the city. It had grown quite a bit since I first visited many years earlier. So much history, including some from London, the Indians that inhabited the land before the dam created the lake, and so much more. It was amazing!
We stayed for three nights in Lake Havasu and enjoyed the break from our regular schedules. It was very edifying and inspiring. The next time you sing, “London Bridge is falling down”, just we assured that it is well established in its new home and very much loved.
Just FYI – the population of Lake Havasu City was 15,500 in December of 1975 and by 2010, the U.S. Census estimated the population to be 52,527. McCulloch Blvd is the main street and there is actually a Beachcomber Blvd on an island where many of the lighthouses can be found. Interestingly, California is on one side of the lake and Arizona is on the other.