It all started with a guy named Robert McCulloch. That is the McCulloch of McCulloch chain saws. He had some family money and an engineering degree. His real desire was to make boat motors but it was his lightweight chain saws that brought him his fame and fortune. But while he was still dabbling in boat motors, he thought he needed a place to test them so he bought some lakefront acreage along Lake Havasu for testing of his motors.
In that era, the 1960s, there was almost nothing in that area. It was hot, rugged, and desolate. The Air Air Corps had a little rest camp in that area and that is the property that McCulloch purchased. He came to like the area and eventually bought about 25 square miles of land in the area, paying about 75 dollars an acre.
He tried to create development in the area, but it was a hard sell when there wasn’t even a decent road into the area. McCulloch built a factory there in part to foster growth, but he really needed something that would attract the attention of the world.
About that time, the city of London had an old bridge over the Thames River that was sinking and decaying and needed to be replaced. Rather that tearing it down, they auctioned it off and McCulloch was the winning bidder at $2.4 million. He had the bridge taken apart block by block with each block being numbered for reassembly. The blocks where shipped through the Panama Canal and to the Port of Long Beach from where they were trucked to Lake Havasu. There wasn’t really any part of the lake where the bridge could be used so McCulloch cut a mile long canal that turned a peninsula into an island and created the body of water for his bridge to traverse.
Lake Havasu was still a very remote city and so McCulloch flew in most of his prospective purchasers of lots, built a hotel for them to stay in, and employed a staff of realtors who drove the prospects around in white Jeeps.
We really liked the town. We were able to take a boat ride on the Lake in the form of a $2 round trip ferry to an Indian casino on the other side in California. And we resisted the temptation to gamble, just getting right back on the ferry for the return trip.