If some entrepreneur bought, disassembled, and moved the Eiffel Tower to, say, Yuma, Arizona, would it have the same allure as it does in Paris? I asked myself this question on February, 4, 2013, when Ruth & I went through Lake Havasu City and saw London Bridge.
On our way from Las Vegas to Tucson, Ruth & I decided to take the designated scenic route. Highway 93, which is incredibly scenic, is not marked as such from Kingman to Phoenix, Arizona, by Rand McNally’s 2013 Road Atlas. But RM finds Highway 95 from I-40’s Exit 9 to Parker, Arizona, scenic. There were a couple of fairly pleasant vistas, but it wasn’t what I’d call zowie.
After 20 miles of not much to see, we entered Lake Havasu City. LHC’s 2012 VISITORS GUIDE calls it “A young town…built on the spirit of possibility and innovation.”
If you define innovation as endless miles of traffic passing between endless shopping centers, then you’ll love Lake Havasu City. Surely part of this town’s congestion problem is that it has grown crazily since its 1978 incorporation. With a current population exceeding 52,000, it has the look of a city that succeeded in attracting at least one franchise outlet of every company in the U.S. to serve quickly built neighborhoods.
Of course, the VISITOR GUIDE makes it sound like an AAAAA tourist destination. “…the city attracts 750,000 visitors a year with its calm waters, beautiful beaches and desert weather with more than 300 sunny days a year.” Sure sounds like urban heaven to me. If desert living is your thing, Lake Havasu City is your kind of place.
But Ruth & I weren’t there for resort-type activities. LHC is “…a destination for boaters water sports enthusiasts, hikers, nature lovers, car enthusiasts and history buffs,” its Guide gushes. The official Arizona Visitor’s Guide calls Lake Havasu the “Personal Watercraft Capital of the World”. London Bridge is reportedly the #2 Tourist Attraction in a beautiful State with a Grand Canyon and a lot more.
LHC founder Robert McCulloch, Sr. clearly thought it was a good idea to deconstruct a sinking River Thames bridge that opened in 1831 and move it to Arizona. I was surprised that London Bridge doesn’t actually cross the Colorado River. It provides access to a Lake Havasu island and is surrounded by Lions Dog Park, Island Shopping Mall, London Bridge Shops, Lake Havasu City Visitor Center, etc. Visitors are supposed to be impressed by both the feat of moving it and details like, “Kaboom! The vintage lamps on the London Bridge are made from the melted down cannons of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army….The Bridge is rumored to be haunted!”
If you find the paragraph above thrilling, head for Lake Havasu City. If you prefer to keep the Eiffel Tower in Paris, take Highway 93 the next time you drive from Las Vegas to Phoenix.