From the late 1940s through the 1960s, Route 66 was America’s number one western vacation destination highway. Just one look at an old road map will reveal the reason why. Old Route 66 ran close to nearly every popular travel destination in the Southwest from the Texas Panhandle to Santa Monica. Just by hopping on one of the many side roads from Route 66, a traveler could drive a few extra miles to experience places like the Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas or Lake Havasu.
In the old days, Route 66 was truly a vacation experience of its own. The side road destination options in Arizona were interesting enough to keep travelers coming back for more, year after year. In modern times, many of the old Route 66 side road destinations are still thriving and Lake Havasu City is one such place! Lake Havasu City is located close to the old Highway 95 Topock Route 66 alignment and this lakeside community has turned into a prime vacation spot in modern times.
Lake Havasu City is located on Arizona State Road 95 between Parker and Bullhead City, which is a town across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada. Travelers that seek the nostalgic Route 66 era vacation experience will find cozy antique motels that overlook Lake Havasu and there still are a few good old fashioned western steakhouse restaurants in the area. Spring breakers also flock to Lake Havasu City, because of its party friendly reputation. This city also offers the modern amenities that conventioneers and business travelers seek, especially during the cool winter season. There are plenty of modern hotels, shopping districts, great places to dine and of course, Lake Havasu City is the home of the historic London Bridge!
The main tourism draw in Lake Havasu City is the lake itself. Parker Dam is just a little way downstream on the Colorado River and Lake Havasu actually serves as a gigantic water reservoir. This big lake on the Colorado River is a fisherman’s paradise and it is a boater’s dream come true! The striped bass fishing here is pretty good and there is plenty of room for water skiing.
The London Bridge is one of the most famous bridges of them all and this attraction can be found near the waterfront shops in Lake Havasu City. The London Bridge or to be more specific, the New London Bridge originally spanned the River Thames in England back in the 1830s. The soil composition of the river bottom was not accurately judged prior to building the London Bridge, so the extreme weight of the stone block bridge and heavy traffic eventually caused the London Bridge to sink into the river by a rate that was sometimes as high as one inch per year.
By the mid 1960s, the London Bridge was well past its prime and its backbone was nearly broken. A new London Bridge was scheduled to be constructed in its place, so the old bridge went up for grabs. Instead of demolishing the old bridge, the London Bridge was put on the auction block. An American entrepreneur bought the London Bridge for a couple million dollars and soon after, the disassembled stone blocks were shipped all the way from England to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The London Bridge relocation project was completed in 1971 and this famous bridge has been a popular tourist destination ever since.
The old “London Bridge Is Falling Down” nursery rhyme song no longer holds true, now that this old stone block bridge is mounted on a solid rock foundation in Lake Havasu! Interesting enough, the evidence of the sinking bridge span from the old days was preserved. The “swoop back” look of the original drooping center span can be seen from almost any angle when viewing the London Bridge in its current setting.
The London Bridge may not be the prettiest looking bridge, but it sure does have a lot of history to share. When visiting Lake Havasu City, taking the time to stroll across the old London Bridge is simply a must to do! The view of Lake Havasu from the center span are what post card pictures are made of and just the thought of taking a stroll on this old antique bridge certainly does add to the charm!
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