London Bridge Lake Havasu Arizona
By 1968, as Lake Havasu City founder Robert P. McCulloch Sr. searched for ways to bring attention to the new settlement, and thereby sell more property, news from England captured his imagination. A bridge in London, which had straddled the Thames River since the 1830s, had become inadequate for its traffic and was literally sinking. (If you are thinking about the nursery rhyme, it is somewhat apropos, but it was probably about a different bridge, one that actually fell into the storied river.) People in Havasu like to tell visitors that McCulloch thought he was buying the famous Tower Bridge over the Thames, but London officials had marketed the bridge extensively and it’s a safe bet McCulloch knew exactly what he was buying.
McCulloch placed a bid and was successful. With his prize came the unprecedented problem of moving the giant stone structure halfway around the world. One of McCulloch’s top company executives, C.V. Wood, oversaw the project. Workers numbered each piece of granite and loaded the 130-year-old bridge onto a ship, which sailed across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal and up the California coast. Trucks hauled the pieces overland to Arizona. Today, a “bone-yard” managed by the city holds pieces not used in the reconstruction of the bridge, in case there is a need for spare parts.
The bridge came with lampposts molded from French cannons captured by the British during the 1815 Battle of Waterloo. It is also said that the bridge had served as a gallows in London where those convicted of high crimes or suspected of witchcraft met their earthly ends.
Known to locals as “the world’s largest antique,” the bridge was assembled using a technique developed by early Romans.
Construction workers built large sand mounds upon which to work while they formed the large arches. When the bridge was complete, workers cut through the peninsula, forming the Bridgewater Channel, a mile-long canal giving the bridge credence. The canal also converted the “point” to an island, now known as Havasu Island.