Lucky me! My husband recently had an appointment with clients in Lake Havasu, and I asked if I could tag along because I had never been there before! I know…for someone who has lived in Arizona her entire life; it’s weird that there are so many places I haven’t yet ventured to explore.
But alas, I finally made my way up to that little corner of this beautiful state! Naturally, I had my husband drop me off to see the most touristy thing they have– The London Bridge!
At first, I was a little nervous that I was going to get a few photos, walk around, and then have a couple of hours left to wait for my husband to finish his appointment. This was not the case at all. I couldn’t believe how much there is to do, and really how big the bridge is itself.
Second only to the Grand Canyon, the London Bridge is one of Arizona’s largest tourist attractions attracting more than 800,000 visitors annually. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from October through April, 90-minute guided walking tours are available for $10 per person (children 12 and under are free).
Contrary to the old nursery rhyme, the London Bridge is not falling down! However, this was not always the case. The 182-year-old bridge was originally built over the River Thames in London, England but had not been designed with vehicles in mind. It began sinking at a rate of an inch every eight years, and by 1924, the east side of the bridge was 3-4 inches lower than the west side of the bridge. It was narrow and became dilapidated and unable to carry the weight now being ushered over it continuously.
Quick facts about the (new) London Bridge:
- It was designed in 1799 by Scottish Engineer John Rennie to replace the “old” London Bridge,
- Construction was completed in 1831,
- It has five spans, covering 930 feet in length,
- The vintage lamps that adorn the top of the bridge are made from melted down cannons from Napoleon Bonaparte’s army,
- Due to a grim past, it is rumored to be haunted. According to GoLakeHavasu.com, for years, visitors have claimed sightings of a British police bobby patrolling the bridge and a woman in black roaming the night. (Between 1305 and 1660 during its London residency, it was customary for the heads of traitors to be displayed on the bridge.)
- The inside of the bridge is now hollow to accommodate the weight of vehicle traffic,
- When it was reconstructed, a steel framework was faced in granite, which reduced its weight from 130,000 tons to 30,000 tons (this is why it’s no longer falling down),
- When it was disassembled, the pieces were numbered to make it easier to reassemble the bridge when it got to Lake Havasu. You can see some of the numbers on pieces if you look closely.
- The bridge was purchased with the winning bid placed by Robert P. McCulloch for $2,460,000 on April 18, 1968.
- The total cost for the bridge ended up being $5.1 million (including relocation and reassembly expenses).
- The bridge was rededicated in a ceremony on October 10, 1971.
The area surrounding the bridge is a super cute English Village that has not been without its share of ups and downs. Originally built by McCulloch as a temporary open-air mall to attract visitors, it has been through several owners and is now managed by the Lake Havasu City Convention & Visitors Bureau. They are housed in the former City of London Arms Pub space.
The entrance gate that leads you to the visitor’s center and the other surrounding shops (complete with a fish and chips restaurant), and down to the bridge is a wrought iron gate from Witley Court in Worcester, England, which had been remodeled as a grand Italianate palace for the Earl of Dudley. The Dudley fortunes took a hit, and the home was sold in 1920. Eventually, the estate wound up in the hands of a salvage dealer who proceeded to sell everything of value, including the gates. Robert McCulloch bought one of the gates and shipped it to Lake Havasu, where it now stands as a proud entrance to the London Bridge.
Just walking around the area reminds you of a little slice of England. There are a couple of red telephone booths (non-functional, I looked), the English Village, England flags, and statues. There are even locks on gates.
I spent a great deal of time walking and exploring and found that there is plenty to do and see. There are numerous restaurants, hotels, boat rides, souvenir shops, a walking path, and a large collection of lighthouses to walk and view. The 26 lighthouses are scaled-down replicas of famous lighthouses throughout the U.S. Due to the number of replicas; Lake Havasu City is technically home to more lighthouses than any other city in the U.S.
By the time I made my way back to the visitor’s center and decided I needed water and shade, my husband was calling to say he was on his way to pick me up. I could hardly believe I had walked around for so long and it felt like 15 minutes because I was so busy snapping photographs and reading up on the history of the London Bridge. The whole set-up kind of reminded me of a mix between Puerto Penasco (“Rocky Point”) and the San Antonio River Walk.
If you haven’t been, I highly recommend going and spending a couple of hours exploring or even getting the boat tour. It seemed like it’d be a pretty good spot to spend a day in the sun and enjoying the atmosphere.