9 Days to Havasu
What do chainsaws and the London Bridge have in common?
The funny thing, for me, is that you always hear about THE London Bridge as though there is only one. I suppose there is only one London Bridge that crosses the River Thames at any given time, but throughout history there have been several bridges called the London Bridge.
When I was in my early teens, I had heard about this place in the middle of the desert to where THE London Bridge had been moved. My first thought was, “How are all those Londoners going to cross the river?” Well, I was in London last year for the first time and I’m happy to report that there are many bridges in London that cross the river. And one of those bridges is called London Bridge. Do not confuse the London Bridge with the iconic Tower Bridge. They are within walking distance of each other, but very different. One is full of tourists and the other is full of Londoners going to and from work.
So, how did one certain incarnation of the London Bridge find its way to the middle of the desert of Arizona? It’s a fascinating story and you can read about it on various web pages and blog sites. In short, a wealthy businessman purchased land in Arizona in the early 1960’s. His intention was to build a city. Around 1967, this businessman needed a gimmick or something to attract people to his city and at the same time, the city of London was considering selling the London Bridge. One thing led to another and the bridge was purchased from London for about two and a half million dollars. That was just the purchase price. Now remember, this is before Amazon Prime and free shipping so the cost to dismantle and ship the bridge was pretty damn high. Our eccentric businessman paid the price and had the bridge reconstructed on dry land. Dry land? Yes. If you look at a map of Lake Havasu City today, you can see that the bridge spans a narrow stretch of water between the river bank and an island in the river. That island used to be a peninsula. After the bridge was built, a canal was dug underneath the bridge separating the peninsula from the mainland. (why can’t all bridges be built this way?).
The bridge in the desert is nothing spectacular to look at. The reason you go to see it is to pay homage to a wealthy eccentric American who had the balls and the money to undertake such a project. You go to the bridge to celebrate the American dream that anything is possible even it makes little sense. The bridge is there to remind us that we should never be limited by the practicality of a situation: dream it and it can be done. That bridge embodies the same spirit as we triathletes do.
Don’t get me wrong. Walking across that bridge in Lake Havasu City won’t blow your mind or shake your spiritual foundation. If it does, then that’s your thing. It’s just one of those things that you look at and wonder why would anyone do this: much the same as our friends and family members look at us triathletes and wonder the same thing.
In hindsight, it was one of Robert McCulloch’s good decisions. It drew people to Lake Havasu City. Do you recognize McCulloch’s name? He is the one who founded Lake Havasu City and purchased the bridge. He is also the founder of McCulloch chainsaws.
If Paul Harvey were alive, I’d ask him for his signature quote here…
“and now you know the rest of the story”