Trailering Magazine Archives - Destinations
A Place with Good Connections
In 1958, Robert McCulloch was flying over a relatively unknown body of water on the Arizona/California border searching for a place where his outboard motors could be tested. He had the airplane land along the eastern shore of the newly created lake formed by the construction of a dam on the Colorado River. The site was named Havasu after the Indian word for blue water. Robert McCulloch looked around and decided his search was over.
For the next few years McCulloch tested new engines on the lake but his mind was already focused on a new project. He wanted to build a planned community and by 1964, Robert McCulloch owned 26 square miles of land on Lake Havasu and was ready to put his ideas to work. The new community would have 20% commercial business, 40% light industry and since it was on a lake and near the Grand Canyon, 40% resort industry. But it needed something else; something that would make people talk about, visit and hopefully buy in his planned community. McCulloch began another search.
During this time, the 140-year old London Bridge that crossed the Thames in London was put up for auction out of concern it was, to steal from a popular song, "falling down." McCulloch bid $2,460,000 for the landmark (he determined the cost of cutting the granite into blocks, doubled that amount and then added $1,000 for every year of his age-he was 60 at the time). His search was over. The bid was accepted and he spent another $7 million to bring the 10,276 granite blocks by ship and truck back to Arizona. The Guinness Book of World Records noted the price paid for the London Bridge in 1968 was, at the time, the highest ever paid for an antique. In 1971, London Bridge was opened linking Lake Havasu City with an island in the middle of the lake. An English Village was designed at the foot of the bridge and a London double decker bus was brought in to be used as a storefront for the expected visitors. And visitors there were, many of whom became residents. Today, Lake Havasu is home to more than 42,000 people and host to 2.5 million tourists every year.
The trailer boater who is a fisherman will benefit from an ongoing $27 million restocking project managed by the Lake Havasu Fish Improvement Program. Artificial reefs have been placed throughout the lake to provide shelter for striped and black bass, bluegill and crappie and seven coves have been isolated in the lake where a pair of endangered native species are being raised and, when mature, placed in the open water. Havasu experts recommend fishing at the southern end of the lake, which has excellent boat ramps in Cattail Cove State Park. Lake Havasu State Park (also called Windsor Beach) is just one mile north of the London Bridge and has excellent boat launch facilities as well. Boaters using this launch are encouraged to see nearby Topock Gorge where incredible rock formations are found along this untouched stretch of the Colorado River. Boat ramps are also found at Take Off Point near Parker Dam in the south, Havasu Springs which is also near Parker Dam, Mesquite Cove in the northern part of the lake and Site Six which is the original location of Robert McCulloch's outboard engine test facility. Sandpoint Marina has a boat ramp as well and can accommodate overnight parking of the trailer for non-guests only if the parking lot isn't full.
This is why it's important to plan a trip to Lake Havasu, rather than making a last-minute decision to visit. It is the site of numerous fishing tournaments on weekends and hosts a number of championship jetski competitions throughout the year. Lake Havasu has also become a popular spring break destination for college students seeking a closer (or different) venue than south Florida in March.
Another interesting trip with the boat in tow is Parker Dam Road along the Colorado River's California shore. The 11-mile route passes a number of public areas for swimming and boating (there is a boat ramp at Rock House along the way) and features information kiosks every few miles providing history and explanations about the view. Parker Dam Road also goes by the name "thread of life" as a result of the ancient rock formations viewed along the way.
The Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge is also located at the south end of the lake and features more than 200 species of birds and wildlife including bighorn sheep and towering Saguaro Cactus. Lake Havasu City is surrounded by desert and visitors have six areas from which to choose to explore abandoned gold mines or search for turquoise and geodes in the rock formations.
The trailer boater visiting this planned community will have a variety of activities, besides being on the water, all year long. Lake Havasu owes its beginning to a man trying to improve how his outboard motors and chainsaws ran. Today everything is running just fine.
For More Information:
Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge 520-667-4144
Cattail Cove State Park 520-855-1223
Windsor Beach (Lake Havasu State Park)520-855-2784
Bureau of Land Management Field Office 520-505-1200
Lake Havasu Visitors and Convention Bureau 800-242-8278
From Phoenix 200 miles
From Los Angeles 320 miles
From Grand Canyon 27 miles
From Hoover Dam 135 miles
From Las Vegas 160 miles