Lake Havasu City History
The History of Lake Havasu City
and the London Bridge
By Bobbi A. J. Holmes
Havasu City: The Miracle
was not that Robert P. McCulloch was able to transport, piece by piece, the
almost halfway across the globe, and reconstruct it in the
desert. The miracle was that he was able to build a city in that same piece
of desert, especially considering there was no major highway winding its way
through the would-be city, connecting it to the rest of the country, and
providing a stopover for weary travelers.
According to local legend, McCulloch first spied the eventual site of
what would become Lake
Havasu City, when he
flew over the area in search of a location to test the outboard boat motors
he manufactured. Had he flown over that site less than thirty years prior,
there would have been no
to host the McCulloch test center.
Prior to Parker Dam
of Parker Dam created
in the 1930ís. Until the construction of the dam system, what is now
was a remote section of the
Colorado River winding its way
through the rugged and remote desert terrain.
In the early 1800ís, mountain men made
their way up that section of the river, trapping for beavers in the streams.
By the 1830ís the formable Mohave Indians made the area less desirable for
the trappers, and so the mountain men moved on.
Spaniards also found their way into the region,
mining up and down the river in the nearby mountains. More prospectors came.
Along the riverbanks, mining camps sprung up.
Emergence of Fishing Camps
A century had past since the trappers were discouraged from the area by the
Mohave Indians, when the thirst for water altered the terrain with the
construction of Parker Dam in the mid to late 1930ís. Obscure little
villages and communities were flooded and disappeared as the shoreline
widened. Left behind was a ghostly reminder of another time, as the tops of
trees danced eerily beneath the surface of the blue waters, providing a
habitat for crappie, catfish and bass.
Fishing camps sprung up where there had
once been mining camps, yet during World War II some were temporarily closed
when the area was used for military test flights. On the peninsula, which is
now the island that connects the rest of
Lake Havasu City,
by the London
the military used the area for a rest and recreational site. There,
primitive barracks built near the airstrip housed the weary servicemen,
flown in from Los Angeles.
When McCulloch first discovered
the military had already abandoned the area and the fishermen had reclaimed
their waters. While it certainly is understandable that his first view of
showed breathtaking scenery of blue waters and rich and rugged mountain
ranges, how he ever imagined a city at that location was more outrageous
than shipping a historic, 130,000-ton bridge half way across the world. But, he did both.