Cruisin’ Arizona – the London Bridge
I admit it—I’m a history junkie. If you’ve read many of my books, you already know about my love of Old West history, but after doing some research on my family background, I’ve developed a fascination with English history as well. I’m longing for the day when I can travel across the pond and do that research in person. But during a recent family road trip, I was reminded that a perfect opportunity to study a bit of England was waiting for me right here in Arizona.
The London Bridge most of us sang about in our nursery-rhyme days was built between 1176 and 1209, replacing an even older bridge. And it survived for over 600 years (a fact I often ponder when yet another road repair project begins in our area). By 1799, it, too, had seen better days and had to be replaced, leading to the “new” London Bridge, which was completed in 1831.
But those 18th-century designers could never have foreseen the stress created by modern automotive traffic, and the bridge was in danger of sinking into the River Thames. Having no intention of allowing it to fall down, the Common Council of the City of London put the bridge up for auction instead. In 1967, it was purchased by Robert P. McCulloch (of McCulloch chainsaw fame) to serve as the crown jewel of his new development, Lake Havasu City. And that’s how the London Bridge wound up in Arizona.
That’s the short version, anyway. Bringing it all to pass took a considerable amount of effort. Before the bridge was disassembled, each and every one of the granite blocks on the bridge’s exterior was numbered and recorded on a schematic.
Then the stones began the long journey that would take them across the Atlantic and through the Panama Canal to California, where they were then trucked from Long Beach to their final destination in Arizona.
There, each one of those numbered stones was identified and meticulously reassembled. The numbering can still be seen on many of the stones today.
Spanning the Bridgewater Channel Canal on Lake Havasu, the bridge draws tens of thousands of visitors every year, making it one of Arizona’s top tourist attractions.
Looking up at the arched expanse, I could almost imagine myself transported to a European setting. But the sight of an eating establishment across the water—named the Javelina Cantina—kind of gave the Arizona location away.
After spotting an eatery with such an intriguing name, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stop in and see what kind of fare the Javelina Cantina offered. I was pleased to find their food definitely ranks high on the “yum” scale. Better yet, they offered seating on an outdoor patio overlooking the bridge, where diners can enjoy a meal while watching seagulls soaring high, then swooping down over the turquoise water below.
After lunch, we took a stroll across the famed bridge. What an amazing feeling to realize we were treading on stones that had witnessed so much history! Even the lamps that line the bridge have their own stories to tell, as they’re made from the melted-down cannons of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army.
Okay so it wasn’t really a trip to England, but it’s enough to give me an England fix…at least for the time being. 🙂 Until that longed-for trip comes to pass, I’ll be looking for more Arizona adventures to share with you.
Until next time…