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London Bridge 1972Lake Havasu City History

The History of Lake Havasu City
and the London Bridge

By Bobbi A. J. Holmes

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5

Lake Havasu City: The Miracle

       The miracle was not that Robert P. McCulloch was able to transport, piece by piece, the historic London Bridge, almost halfway across the globe, and reconstruct it in the Arizona desert. The miracle was that he was able to build a city in that same piece of desert, especially considering there was no major highway winding its way through the would-be city, connecting it to the rest of the country, and providing a stopover for weary travelers.     
      According to local legend, McCulloch first spied the eventual site of what would become
Lake Havasu City, when he flew over the area in search of a location to test the outboard boat motors he manufactured. Had he flown over that site less than thirty years prior, there would have been no
Lake Havasu to host the McCulloch test center.

Prior to Parker Dam

       The building of Parker Dam created Lake Havasu in the 1930ís.  Until the construction of the dam system, what is now Lake Havasu was a remote section of the Colorado River winding its way through the rugged and remote desert terrain.           
        In the early 1800ís, mountain men made their way up that section of the river, trapping for beavers in the streams.  By the 1830ís the formable Mohave Indians made the area less desirable for the trappers, and so the mountain men moved on.
     
Havasu FishermenSpaniards also found their way into the region, mining up and down the river in the nearby mountains. More prospectors came. Along the riverbanks, mining camps sprung up.

Emergence of Fishing Camps

              A century had past since the trappers were discouraged from the area by the Mohave Indians, when the thirst for water altered the terrain with the construction of Parker Dam in the mid to late 1930ís. Obscure little villages and communities were flooded and disappeared as the shoreline widened. Left behind was a ghostly reminder of another time, as the tops of trees danced eerily beneath the surface of the blue waters, providing a habitat for crappie, catfish and bass.
       Fishing camps sprung up where there had once been mining camps, yet during World War II some were temporarily closed when the area was used for military test flights. On the peninsula, which is now the island that connects the rest of
Lake Havasu City, by the
London Bridge, the military used the area for a rest and recreational site.  There, primitive barracks built near the airstrip housed the weary servicemen, flown in from Los Angeles.
       When McCulloch first discovered
Lake Havasu, the military had already abandoned the area and the fishermen had reclaimed their waters. While it certainly is understandable that his first view of Lake Havasu showed breathtaking scenery of blue waters and rich and rugged mountain ranges, how he ever imagined a city at that location was more outrageous than shipping a historic, 130,000-ton bridge half way across the world.  But, he did both.  Next Page>

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