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How Did the London Bridge Move to the Arizona Desert?

John Ghost



It was 1967, the Common Council of the City of London had decided to put the London Bridge on the market. The bridge was sinking into the River Thames and it was becoming too costly to repair. It was decided that a new bridge would have to replace it, but they didn’t want the current bridge to go to waste. That’s when Lake Havasu’s founder and chainsaw tycoon, Robert P. McCulloch, Sr. decided to bid on it. It was April 18, 1968 when he won the bid to relocate the London Bridge to Lake Havasu. His winning bid was $2.46 million. Adjusted for inflation, this would be equivalent to $17 million today.

McCulloch’s purchase included ornate lamp posts that were made from melted cannonballs that were retrieved from Napoleon’s army. Today these magnificent lamposts still adorn the London Bridge in Lake Havasu.

The London Bridge was dismantled into 10,276 granite blocks and then shipped to Lake Havasu City. The 5,400 mile-long journey was an arduous one, to say the least. The granite blocks were numbered and then shipped overseas. The shipment went through the Panama Canal and up the west coast to Long Beach, California. From there, the blocks were transported through the desert to Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

The History of the London Bridge

The first London Bridge to be constructed on the River Thames dates back to the Roman occupation approximately 2,000 years ago. A series of wooden bridges were the first to cross the Thames. But later, the London Bridge from folk and nursery songs was constructed between 1176 and 1209 AD. This bridge is referred to as the “Old Bridge.” The architect who designed it was a priest known as Peter of Colechurch.

Over a 600 year period, the Old Bridge had extensive repairs, but alas, it was time for a replacement. This created an amazing opportunity for a new architect to design the New Bridge. This architect was none other than the Scottish engineer John Rennie. The New London Bridge opened to the public in 1831.

But before long, the New London Bridge began to sink into the Thames River bottom at a rate of one inch every eight years. Then as the 20th century arrived, the increased London population and usage of automobiles threatened the survival of the bridge. And that’s when Robert P. McCulloch, Sr. came to the rescue and relocated the London Bridge to Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Visiting the London Bridge in Lake Havasu

The London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona | Image credit: Graham Tiller via Flickr

The weather in Lake Havasu City makes visiting the London Bridge pleasant all-year-round (though in the summer, visiting it in the evening is preferable as the heat can reach some high temperatures during the day). There are several unique points of interest that you can preview from the comfort of your own home with this London Bridge virtual tour. But once you’re here, the best walking tour you need to take is conducted by Go Lake Havasu.

There are also a couple of unique lodging options with access to the Bridgewater Channel and London Bridge. These include:

Heat Hotel

The rooms of the Heat Hotel resort overlook the waterfront and bridge. The views at night are especially spectacular.

London Bridge Resort

The London Bridge Resort offers some of the most stunning views of the London Bridge, the Bridgewater Channel, Lake Havasu, and the shops and restaurants along the London Bridge Village.

Things to Do Nearby

Outside on the boardwalk of London Bridge Village in Lake Havasu City.
London Bridge Village | Image credit: Prayitno via Flickr

Lake Havasu City offers something for everyone. Lake Havasu itself is a spring break hotspot. The pristine beaches, warm desert sand, and cool waters of Lake Havasu provide the perfect beach getaway.

The area is also popular for avid golfers because of the year-round sunny days. Lake Havasu and the Bridgewater Channel also cater to boaters, paddle boarders, and swimmers.

The London Bridge Village runs along both sides of the Bridgewater Channel has restaurants with delicious local culinary offerings, as well as quaint boutique shops.

The London Bridge in Lake Havasu has become a tourist destination thanks to the imaginative and forward-thinking Robert P. McCulloch, Sr. At one time, Lake Havasu City was small and didn’t attract many visitors. There really was nothing there. But after McCulloch purchased and relocated the London Bridge to Lake Havasu City, everything changed. Today, millions of visitors from all over the world, come to witness the London Bridge and the majestic Lake Havasu. Don’t you think it’s time you come visit too?