Who said you can’t buy a bridge? That is exactly what the city of Lake Havasu did when the London Bridge that had formerly spanned the River Thames in London, England until 1967. With the damming of the Colorado River by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation between 1934 and 1938, the lake that is the large reservoir behind Parker Dam, Lake Havasu was born. Located in north-western Arizona near the California border. Originally used for military training exercises and as a recreation area, Lake Havasu got it’s start when Robert McCulloch, founder of the McCullough empire, bought 26 square miles of desert land in 1963 for a master planned community called Lake Havasu. To spur the growth of the town, McCulloch opened a chainsaw manufacturing plant in the new town. Within two years, three manufacturing plants were operational in the area, employing approximately 400 employees.
In 1968, McCulloch purchased the London Bridge at auction and began shipping his new purchase brick by brick to Lake Havasu. The reassembled bridge opened to the public on October 10th, 1971 complete with fireworks, hot air balloon landings and movie star appearances. Today, the bridge still attracts visitors from around the world and Lake Havasu serves as a sportsman’s paradise. Although the manufacturing operations have gone from the area, the city still serves as a vibrant and very alive community in northwest Arizona.
After it was purchased from the English, the bridge was dismantled and shipped to northern Arizona where it was reconstructed across a small bay called Thompson Bay. Each piece of the bridge was numbered, dismantled and then reconstructed in its current location where it reopened in 1971 as a star visitor drawing card for the city. A small “English Village” with shops and restaurants was constructed next to the bridge to give the feeling of being in the English countryside. The village is a picturesque and fun place to stroll around for an hour or two. Boats crossing over to the local casino also leave from this area and paddle boats or canoes can also be rented here for some fun time paddling or peddling around on the lake.