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- London Bridge and Lake Havasu Page 2 -
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ROBERT PAXTON McCULLOCH was born on 11 May 1911. A fortune made by his grandfather, John Beggs, from investments in Thomas Edison’s inventions was eventually inherited by Robert and his two siblings in 1925.
    McCulloch started university at Princeton in 1928 but transferred to Stanford the following year. Two years after he graduated, he married Barbra Ann Briggs whose parents were part owners of the Briggs and Stratton company.
    Robert set up McCulloch Engineering Company in Milwaukee Wisconsin where he built racing engines and superchargers (the Paxton Supercharger became well known world-wide). The company later moved to California and was eventually sold to the Borg-Warner Corporation for 1 million dollars.
    McCulloch then started McCulloch Aviation. In 1946 he changed the name to McCulloch Motors and began manufacturing chainsaws, a field in which he was immediately successful.aaMcCullogh1.jpg - 30441 Bytes McCulloch Oil, with interests in oil and gas exploration, land development and geothermal energy, was his next business venture. Also, McCulloch continued to look for an opening in the outboard market, in which he had had an interest dating from the McCulloch Motor days. To this end he went to Lake Havasu in his search for a test site and liked what he saw. (Robert McCulloch and chain saw - right)

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In 1963 McCulloch purchased a 26 square mile parcel of barren desert that would later become the site for Lake Havasu City. At the time it was the largest single tract of state land ever sold in Arizona - and the cost per acre was under $75.
    McCulloch Properties, Inc., a subsidiary of McCulloch Oil, was the division that developed Lake Havasu City. One of the first steps was in 1964 to purchase Holly Development in order to utilise its licensed real estate force. McCulloch bought 11 Lockheed Electras and formed McCulloch International Airlines in order to fly in prospective buyers, free of charge, from all over the country. When they arrived they were greeted by Holly salesmen. Forty identical white Jeeps were available to ferry them around the district and the visitors stayed at Lake Havasu Hotel built specially to accommodate them. (The hotel was demolished in 1988 and Lake Havasu City’s Civic Center now occupies the site.)
    In 1964 McCulloch opened a chainsaw manufacturing plant in the new community and within two years there were two additional factories employing a total of around four hundred workers.

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A bridge has spanned the River Thames in London for over 2000 years; the first record is of a pontoon bridge dating from the first century AD. The first stone 'London Bridge', designed by Peter Colechurch, was built in 1176. It took 33 years to build and stood for 600 years. Over the centuries houses and shops were constructed on the bridge.
    A bridge (the one now standing in Arizona) designed by John Rennie replaced it in 1831. By the early 1960’s it was clear that this bridge was slowly sinking into the mud below the River Thames due to the increasing weight it had to carry. It was eventually decided that a new bridge would have to be built. London County Council took the unusual step of putting the old bridge up for auction. It happened at a time when McCulloch was looking for a special and unusual item to attract people to his new project at Lake Havasu. He famously (or infamously - as the mad American who thought he was purchasing nearby Tower Bridge !) offered to buy 'London Bridge' for $2.46 million dollars.
    McCulloch's winning bid led to the bridge being dismantled stone by stone prior to its removal to Lake Havasu. Each piece was marked with four numbers. The first two indicated a particular span, the second showed a particular row of stones, and the last two numbers the position in that row - in much the same way that Rennie had used during the original construction. The granite pieces were stacked at the Surrey Commercial Docks, and then shipped 10,000 miles via the Panama Canal to Long Beach California. From Long Beach the blocks were trucked by road the 300 miles to Lake Havasu. The bridge was rebuilt over dry land on a peninsula that extended into the lake, with the whole operation being supervised by an engineer from England.

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When the building was completed a mile-long channel was dredged allowing the lake waters to pass under the bridge, and forming an island on the west side of the bridge. The original bridge lamp posts, moulded from French cannons captured during the battle of Waterloo, were included in the purchase and have been re-installed on the bridge. The rebuilt London Bridge was officially opened on 10 October 1971 and the Lord Mayor of London was invited to take part in the celebration. An English village was constructed at the eastern 'mainland' entrance to the bridge.
    The first Havasu residents had come into the area in the early sixties in response to McCulloch’s dream. Some of them lived for a time in tents, or made do with kerosene lighting and primitive living conditions. A blossoming new city was their reward. Robert McCulloch died on 25 February 1977. having seen his dream come to fruition. Lake Havasu City was incorporated under State Law a year later in 1978. The city now has over 1000 businesses, two newspapers, and a college.

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