Life

How the London Bridge Ended Up in Arizona

You may have heard Lexi & I talking about the London Bridge this morning. When I mentioned it had been moved to Arizona both Lexi & Snaps looked at me like I was crazy! But I’m not, the old London Bridge WAS moved to Lake Havasu, AZ in 1971!

See, I’m always right!

It’s a pretty interesting story so I thought I’d share it with you fine people, a little known slice of history:

In 1962, London Bridge was 131-years-old, and sinking into the Thames, the old stone structure was unable to handle 21st century traffic demands. So they decided to put it up for auction and build a more modern bridge capable of keeping up with the hustle and bustle of 21st century London.

Enter Robert McCulloch, founder of the Lake Havasu City. He was looking to add a bridge in his planned community in Arizona and bid $2,460,000 on the old girl. He won the old bridge at the City of London’s auction in 1968. McCulloch had just over 2 million dollars for a sinking stone bridge over 5,000 miles away. Now the question on how to get it to Arizona. It wasn’t cheap, he then spent another $7 million to have it moved to the community he established.

The bridge’s exterior granite blocks were numbered and transported by ship, then rebuilt over a reinforced concrete structure built on land in-between the main part of the city and Pittsburgh Point, a peninsula connected to Lake Havasu.

It was officially dedicated at a ceremony on October 10, 1971. A Los Angeles Times report at the time called it “a bizarre ceremony combining hoary English pomp and Arizona informality.” McCulloch, Sir Peter M. Studd, lord mayor of London, “other London officials, their ladies and 17th century pikemen” were in attendance, along with 25,000 spectators.

Here’s the bridge as it stood in London in 1870, spanning the River Thames in London:

London_Bridge_circa_1870

Here you can see the stone blocks as they were numbered:

London_Bridge_Numbered_Stone_5G78

The Bridge was painstakingly reassembled in Lake Havasu City, AZ

London-Bridge-March-1971

An aerial view of the bridge in it’s new home:

Portrait

This is what the bridge looks like today:

London_Bridge,_Lake_Havasu_City_-_2011_(Aerial_Photo)

Image courtesy Flickr user frankpierson
Image courtesy Flickr user fstorr
Image courtesy Flickr user cobalt
Image courtesy Flickr user bigweasel

Bonus Bridge Fact:

A reference to the bridge’s sale and move is made in the first verse of the song “London Homesick Blues” by Gary P. Nunn:

Well, when you’re down on your luck,
And you ain’t got a buck,
In London you’re a goner.
Even London Bridge has fallen down,
And moved to Arizona
,

Now I know why.
And I’ll substantiate the rumor that the English sense of humor
Is drier than than the Texas sand.
You can put up your dukes, and you can bet your boots
That I’m leavin’ just as fast as I can.

I wanna go home with the arma dillo
Good country music from Ama rillo and Abi lene
The friendliest people and the prettiest women you’ve ever
Seen.

Well, it’s cold over here, and I swear
I wish they’d turn the heat on.
And where in the world is that English girl
I promised I would meet on the third floor.
And of the whole damn lot, the only friend I’ve got
Is a smoke and a cheap guitar.
My mind keeps roamin’, my heart keeps longin’
To be home in a Texas bar.

Well, I decided that I’d get my cowboy hat
And go down to Marble Art Station.
‘Cause when a Texan fancies, he’ll take his chances.
Chances will be taken, that’s for sure.
And them Limey eyes, they were eyein’ the prize
That some people call manly footwear.
And they said you’re from down South,
And when you open your mouth,
You always seem to put your foot there.



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