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London Bridge is tourist bait in Lake Havasu City, Arizona

By Chuck Woodbury
editor, Out West

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. -- Folks laughed when chainsaw magnate Robert McCulloch announced he was bringing the 140-year old London Bridge to the Arizona desert.

Nobody laughs anymore.

In the late '60s, the London Bridge was sinking into the clay of London, England's Thames River. Built in 1831, it was the victim of its own immense weight.

London officials said they'd have to replace the bridge. But what to do with the old one -- the one of children's nursery rhymes?

Enter McCulloch. He and a buddy purchased the falling down bridge for $2.4 million. At the time it was the highest price ever paid for an antique.

For the next three years, workers disassembled the bridge in London, then flew its bricks to America where they were hauled to then-tiny Lake Havasu City where they were reassembled over a newly dug out lagoon alongside Lake Havasu. The bridge was ready for busi
The top of the bridge looks a lot different than it did in jolly ol' England of yesteryear.
ness in 1971.

It wasn't long before tourists started showing up, and pretty soon, thanks to McCulloch and his bridge, the town was fat with cash, partly from all the money local real estate companies (including McCulloch's) were making from folks who came to see the bridge then bought homes to stay.

Nowadays, the London Bridge is one of Arizona's biggest attractions. Lake Havasu City has golf courses, affordable homes and a winter population of retired folks in Winnebagos. It's even got a Wal-Mart just a few blocks north of the bridge.

Town visitors can explore a one-acre London village at the foot of the old bridge. For entertainment, they can tune into local radio station KBBC, identified on the air as "BBC radio."

©2002 by Out West Newspaper.



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