When people think of Arizona, they typically think of the majestic Grand Canyon, the endless stands of saguaros, and the stately lighthouses.
Lighthouses? In Arizona?
In fact, a total of 19 lighthouses grace the shoreline of Lake Havasu, with at least six more in the works in the middle of a landlocked desert.
“We started this as navigational lights,” explains Bob Keller, the president and co-founder of the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club, “Coincidentally, they look like lighthouses.”
The initial idea to build lighthouses originated from a misconception. As a historical re-enactor, Keller often portrayed Robert P. McColloch, who established Lake Havasu City in 1964 and brought the world-renowned London Bridge to his new city in 1971. While researching McColloch’s storied past, Keller discovered an old city brochure featuring a curious image of a lighthouse standing at the Lake Havasu Marina entrance.
Knowing no lighthouse currently stood at the Lake Havasu Marina entrance, Keller pondered reconstructing the one featured on the brochure cover in order to celebrate and preserve the city’s history. To ensure accurate reconstruction, Keller sought guidance from McColloch’s son, Richie, since the elder McColloch passed away in early 1977.
Keller learned the lighthouse in the brochure never existed. Brochure designers drew the lighthouse into the scene for the publication. Discouraged, but not defeated, Keller built the Lake Havasu Marina Lighthouse replica anyway in 2000, thinking the lighthouse would “be good for the city.”
While building the Lake Havasu Marina Lighthouse, Keller, also an avid boater, realized the entire lake lacked enough navigational lights to keep boaters safe. So, why not build navigational lights along the shores of Lake Havasu that look like actual North American lighthouses?
Thanks to the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club, a nonprofit organization relying exclusively upon volunteer efforts, famous lighthouses like Cape Hatteras, East Quoddy, Vermilion, Split Rock, and Alpena now shine in the Arizona desert.
Lake Havasu currently claims the title of “the city with most lighthouses in America,” and thanks to the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club, Arizona someday could surpass Michigan as the state with the most lighthouses. Club members have cited at least 35 additional locations along Lake Havasu where a new navigational light could help safely guide boaters along the lake’s deceptively dangerous shores. Keller hopes a navigational light resides at every mile along the lake for 85 miles from Davis Dam to Parker Dam.