London Bridge in Lake Havasu

London bridge in Lake Havasu
Photo by: .Larry Page, Creative Commons

London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down… Who doesn’t know the old nursery rhyme? Nearly everyone has at least heard of the London Bridge rhyme, but not everyone knows that that bridge really did exist and was really in danger of falling down. But that bridge is not what this article is about. There were actually several different London bridges. The nursery rhyme was about the second bridge, which was eventually replaced after over 600 years by a stronger bridge. That bridge didn’t even last half as long as its predecessor, and was soon due for replacement. In 1962, the city of London finally decided to sell it to an American who had big plans for the old bridge.

Entrepreneur Robert McCulloch had really big plans for London Bridge. He had it dismantled and then transported all the way across the Atlantic Ocean from the United Kingdom to the United States. McCulloch was building a new city on the shores of Lake Havasu in Arizona, and he needed to draw in residents and tourists. London Bridge was the key to his plans. He had the bridge reconstructed in the city – with a stronger structure, of course – not only to serve as a way to get from the city to an island in the lake, but as a major tourist attraction.

The reconstruction took three years and, amazingly, took place over land on a peninsula. After the bridge was completed the land beneath it was dredged to form a new waterway, cutting the peninsula into two and forming an island at the other end of the bridge. London Bridge now joins Lake Havasu City to the new island of Pittsburgh Point, just across the lake. The plan was a success; the London Bridge is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Arizona.

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