Photo by Dennis Kneff.
London Bridge turns 50 in Lake Havasu City
The famed London Bridge was built 190 years ago in 1831 along the River Thames in England, but when the weight of 20th century automobile traffic proved to be too much to handle for the iconic bridge, the City of London had it dismantled and put up for auction in 1967.
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In stepped Robert P. McCulloch, an entrepreneur known for his notable chainsaw brand among other products and inventions. McCulloch submitted the winning bid of $2.4 million ($19m by today’s standards), and the bridge was officially purchased in 1968 – making it the largest antique ever sold.
McCulloch immediately partnered with C.V. Wood, Disneyland’s master planner and the theme park’s first employee. The two began to build his dream city – Lake Havasu City. After three years of reconstruction, the London Bridge was rededicated on October 10, 1971. Fast forward 50 years, and Lake Havasu City is celebrating the bridge’s golden anniversary with an entire month’s worth of events. Visit golakehavasu.com for a complete list of all the events going on throughout the month of October.
London Bridge history
When the London Bridge was dismantled in London, England, each stone was numbered for reassembly in Lake Havasu City. The bridge was shipped overseas through the Panama Canal up the coast of California to the Port of Long Beach. It was then transported overland to Lake Havasu City, where reassembly began in 1968. If you look carefully, you can still see the numbering on many of the stones. Now, that’s one heck of a puzzle!
There are historical elements featured all throughout the London Bridge. For example, the vintage lamps on the bridge are made from the melted-down cannons of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army. And speaking of French history, the London Bridge also features a love lock tradition on both ends of the bridge, similar to the “Love Lock Bridge” in Paris.
The inside of the bridge is hollow because it was rebuilt in order to accommodate the afore-mentioned auto traffic. During the London Bridge’s reassembly, a steel framework was faced in granite, rather than using solid granite blocks, which reduced its weight from 130,000 tons to 30,000 tons while strengthening the structure.
The London Bridge is actually the second-largest tourist attraction in Arizona, behind only the Grand Canyon. It inspired a city that is currently home to more than 57,000 residents and hosts more than a million visitors per year.
Lake Havasu City history
Beyond the tremendous history of the London Bridge, Lake Havasu City has created quite a reputation over its 50 years of existence. Located near the Arizona-California border and just a little more than 100 miles from Las Vegas, this community is located smack dab in the middle of the desert. In fact, it’s considered the hottest city in the United States, having reached 128 degrees in 1994.
With that being said, Lake Havasu City has become known for something that might confuse you. You might even need to do a double take to make sure you read this next sentence correctly. Lake Havasu City is quickly becoming known as the watercraft capital of the United States. Yes, the city is known for its water!
Lake Havasu is a large reservoir formed by the Parker Dam on the Colorado River. It is just over 26 miles long and a little less than three miles wide. Combine the lake’s size and location with 300 days of sunshine per year, and you have the perfect destination for water sports.
For hundreds of thousands of watercraft owners, Lake Havasu City is considered the “Jet Ski Capital of the World.” This is especially true in early October when the International Jet Sports Boating Association (IJSBA) World Finals come to town. Approximately 400 competitors from 30 states across the U.S. and over 40 nations worldwide converge on Lake Havasu City and the clear waters of the Colorado River, along with thousands of fans and news media from a dozen countries, to participate in this world-renowned event.
In addition, 2021 will mark the return of the Lake Havasu Classic Outboard Championships for the first time in 30 years. Lake Havasu City was the host of the original powerboat racing event back in 1964 and continued to host through 1990 before it was moved to another location. Now, in conjunction with the London Bridge 50th anniversary, the prestigious NGK Spark Plugs Formula 1 Powerboat Series will return to Lake Havasu City for the NGK Series Championships on the weekend of October 15-17.
Visit golakehavasu.com for a complete list of all the anniversary events going on throughout the month of October.