Jan 24, 2019
|Lake Havasu City is in western Arizona. It’s known as a base for trails in the nearby desert and water sports on Lake Havasu. London Bridge, relocated from England, links the mainland to marinas and a looped path in an area known as the Island. The Lake Havasu Museum of History documents Native American and steamboat history. Lake Havasu State Park has beaches with mountain views, plus picnic spots and birdlife.
Weather: 70°F (21°C), Wind E at 4 mph (6 km/h), 19% Humidity
ZIP codes: 86403-86406
London Bridge is a bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It was built in the 1830s and formerly spanned the River Thames in London, England. It was dismantled in 1967 and relocated to Arizona. The Arizona bridge is a reinforced concrete structure clad in the original masonry of the 1830s bridge, which was purchased by Robert P. McCulloch from the City of London. McCulloch had exterior granite blocks from the original bridge numbered and transported to America to construct the present bridge in Lake Havasu City, a planned community he established in 1964 on the shore of Lake Havasu. The bridge was completed in 1971 (along with a canal), and links an island in the Colorado River with the main part of Lake Havasu City.The 1831 London Bridge was the last project of engineer John Rennie and was completed by his son, John Rennie the Younger. By 1962, the bridge was not sound enough to support the increased load of modern traffic, and it was sold by the City of London.
The purchaser, Robert P. McCulloch, the chairman of McCulloch Oil Corporation, was the founder of Lake Havasu City, his retirement real estate development on the east shore of Lake Havasu, a large reservoir on the Colorado River. McCulloch purchased the bridge as a tourist attraction for Lake Havasu, which was then far from the usual tourist track. The idea was successful, bringing interested tourists and retirement home buyers to the area.
It is a popular rumor that the bridge was bought in the belief that it was London's more recognizable Tower Bridge, but this was ardently denied by McCulloch himself and by Ivan Luckin, who sold the bridge.
London Bridge in 1972, showing the canal
Originally, the deserted Lake Havasu vacant land was given to the state of Arizona by the U.S. Federal Government. The federal property was an abandoned military landing strip. McCulloch made a deal with the state government and received the property for free with a promise to develop the land. But the real estate agents could not bring in prospective buyers, because the land was far from centers of population and had a very hot, arid climate. McCulloch's real estate agent, Robert Plumer, learned that London Bridge was for sale and convinced McCulloch to buy it and bring it to the area to attract potential land buyers. The initial response from McCulloch was, "That's the craziest idea I have ever heard," but after consideration, he decided to go ahead and purchased it for $2.46m (£1.78m). Plumer then arranged with a cargo shipping company that was going to sail a newly-built ship from Great Britain to the United States without any cargo. Plumer said they would pay for all operating costs of the sailing, which was far less than the going rate shipping costs. The bridge's facing stones were disassembled, and each was numbered. After the bridge was dismantled, it was transported to Merrivale Quarry where 15 to 20 cm (5.9 to 7.9 inches) were sliced off many of the original stones. The bridge arrived in pieces at the Port of Long Beach, California and was transported overland to Lake Havasu City, where re-assembly began in 1968. On 23 September 1968, the foundation stone was relaid by Sir Gilbert Inglefield, Lord Mayor of London.
London Bridge in 1973
The original stonework was used to clad a new concrete structure. The reconstruction took slightly over three years and was completed in late 1971. The bridge was not reconstructed over a river, but rather it was rebuilt on land in a position between the main part of the city and Pittsburgh Point, at that time a peninsula jutting into Lake Havasu. Once completed, the Bridgewater Channel Canal was dredged under the bridge and flooded, separating Pittsburgh Point from the city, creating an island. As a result, the bridge now traverses a navigable shortcut between the Thompson Bay part of Lake Havasu south of Pittsburgh Point, and the remainder of Lake Havasu to the north.
After the bridge was reconstructed, prospective buyers of land were attracted to visit the bridge and take a tour of properties for sale. Land sales improved, and McCulloch recouped all his expenses on the purchase and shipping of the bridge. Since he had obtained the land at no cost, the sale of the properties paid for the bridge and more. Recent years have seen much development in the area of the bridge to increase tourist interest. The original "English Village", a quaint English-style open-air mall with hedge maze and historical museum deteriorated, with sections leveled. A revitalization of the English Village was undertaken by the Lake Havasu City Convention & Visitors Bureau. Condos were proposed in 2011 by the owner, Virtual Realty Enterprises.
Sale to Robert McCulloch
Main article: London Bridge (Lake Havasu City)
Rennie's "New" London Bridge during its reconstruction at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, March 1971.
Rennie's "New" London Bridge rebuilt, Lake Havasu City, 2003.
In 1967, the Common Council of the City of London placed the bridge on the market and began to look for potential buyers. Council member Ivan Luckin had put forward the idea of selling the bridge, and recalled: "They all thought I was completely crazy when I suggested we should sell London Bridge when it needed replacing." On 18 April 1968, Rennie's bridge was purchased by the Missourian entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch of McCulloch Oil for US$2,460,000. The claim that McCulloch believed mistakenly that he was buying the more impressive Tower Bridge was denied by Luckin in a newspaper interview. As the bridge was taken apart, each piece was meticulously numbered. The blocks were then shipped via the Panama Canal to California and trucked from Long Beach to Arizona. The bridge was reconstructed by Sundt Construction at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and re-dedicated on 10 October 1971. The reconstruction of Rennie's London Bridge spans the Bridgewater Channel canal that leads from the Uptown area of Lake Havasu City and follows McCulloch Boulevard onto an island that has yet to be named.
The London Bridge that was rebuilt at Lake Havasu City consists of a frame with stones from Rennie's London Bridge used as cladding. The cladding stones used are 150 to 200 millimetres (6 to 8 inches) thick. Some of the stones from the bridge were left behind at Merrivale Quarry at Princetown in Devon. When Merrivale Quarry was abandoned and flooded in 2003, some of the remaining stones were sold in an online auction.[