History of Havasu
Lake Havasu City is not only a bountiful and sought after place to live, it is a historic landmark that exemplifies the spirit of the American entrepreneur.
Long before the sparkling water of the Havasu Lake shone in the sun, while the city’s inhabitants bustled about another day in this oasis-like city, the area was an indistinguishable part of the Arizona desert. Just rugged terrain through which passed a remote section of the Colorado River. Before the lake, before the city, the region was only inhabited by native Mohave Indians and some very courageous prospectors. It was in the 1930’s that the construction of the Parker Dam was enacted by the federal government.
The moment water began to pool, a whisper of things to come began to make its way into the greater world. This seemingly desolate terrain would soon transform into a paradise in the Arizona desert. The Mojave named the newly made body of water, Lake Havasu which translates into “blue-green.” Appropriately named, the lake immediately began to attract settlers and fishermen with its beautiful blue and green waters and plentiful fishing.
Time passed, and in the early 1960’s Robert McCulloch flew over Lake Havasu in search of a test site for his boat motors. This search turned into something far more than anyone reckoned. In fact, what transpired was beyond the imagination and expectations of even Robert McCulloch, and it changed the course of Arizona history.
These changes began in 1963, when on the courthouse steps of Kingman, Arizona, McCulloch purchased a 26 square mile parcel of barren desert that would become the site for Lake Havasu City. At the time, it was the largest single tract of land ever sold in the state of Arizona. The cost per acre was less than $75.
Where others saw a barren tract of land beside a newly made lake, McCulloch saw a bountiful oasis where a city built around those blue green waters would draw the attention of the public. McCulloch was so invested in his idea that he purchased 11 commercial airplanes to fly potential customers to his yet-to-be-built paradise. He wanted people to experience the magic that first captured him. In what became his visual signature, McCulloch also bought a fleet of 40 white jeeps to taxi potential customers around the growing city. Lake Havasu City began to boom with business and Robert McCullough’s entrepreneurial dream began to come true.
It was in 1968 when this blooming community got front page coverage in the international press. Robert McCulloch made a decision that some say was even more outlandish than building a city in the middle of nowhere. He decided to purchase the London Bridge, in its entirety, and have it dismantled and re-built in Lake Havasu City.
The latest edition of the world-famous London Bridge was built in 1831 by John Rennie. It was an English icon spanning the River Thames. The bridge had been carrying Londoners across the Thames for more than 130 years when in the early 1960’s it became clear that the bridge was slowly sinking into the river. A new bridge had to be built. When news of this was broadcast, Robert McCulloch decided to make an offer of $2,400,000 to buy the bridge. His bid was accepted and London Bridge was on its way to a second life in Arizona.
Included with the purchase of the bridge were its unique metal lampposts, molded from French cannons captured after Napoleon’s final defeat at the 1815 battle of Waterloo.
It took three years to dismantle and rebuild the London Bridge. Brick by brick, section by section, the bridge was taken apart, marked and numbered and then re-constructed in Lake Havasu City, Arizona in exactly the same way Rennie had built it.
At first, many of the early Lake Havasu residents did not believe the story. Even when reported in the papers that McCulloch was buying the London Bridge and having it shipped to Lake Havasu City, they scorned the news as some outrageous rumor. But then the great stones and pilings began to arrive and be set into place. The story was confirmed and they watched in amazement as the great pieces of granite began to take shape into the famous London Bridge.
Just as amazing was the transformation of a peninsula of land into an island. A mile long bridge channel was dredged so the waters would enclose the peninsula, giving purpose to the transplanted bridge.
When the London Bridge was completed, Lake Havasu City’s population began to increase rapidly and Robert McCulloch’s vision of an oasis in the desert became even more of a reality.
Today, Lake Havasu City is a booming paradise and focal point for those seeking a relaxed environment offering both luxury and fun every day of the year.
For more general information about Lake Havasu City visit Lakehavasucity.com
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