From an historic perspective an argument could easily be made that Mudshark Brewery and Public House, a pioneer in Arizona craft beer brewing, is a tangible link to Lake Havasu City’s founding. The origins of this desert oasis on the Colorado River can be traced to the establishment of a rest and recreation center, and auxiliary airstrip, for the Kingman Army Airfield in Kingman, Arizona during WWII.
Established in 1942, the sprawling Kingman base was a flexible gunnery school where cadets learned the fine art of air to air, air to ground, and ground to air firing. Navigators were also trained at the center.
Numerous rudimentary airfields were established to serve as emergency landing fields, and to provide navigators with training challenges. Fields were established near Red Lake, a dry lakebed north of Kingman, near Hackberry and in Yucca. The Yucca field later became the Ford Proving Grounds.
Several auxiliary airfields were built along the Colorado River at Kingman. Site Four was built off Route 66 near Topock. Site Seven was built near where the Bill Williams River flowed into the Colorado River. Site Six was built on what is now the island in Lake Havasu City.
The remote airfields, and the recreational facilities at Site Six, also served the needs of troops at the 18,000 square mile Desert Training Center established by General Patton in 1942. Encompassing vast swaths of desert in California, Arizona, and Nevada, this was the largest military training facility in the world.
Troops were ferried to Site Six by air for a brief respite from training. It was an opportunity to sip cold beer, fish, swim, shoot skeet, play cards, hike, and while away a few hours boating on the lake. Before the end of the war Site Six also served as an auxiliary supply point.
Site Six closed in November 1946. Plans to develop and expand the airfield as the anchor for a military base were stillborn. With the war over the property reverted to its private owners, Corinne, a teacher, and Victor Spratt, a railroad worker, in Needles, California. They had purchased the acreage before the war with plans to build a retirement home along the lake.
As the property had twelve buildings, a water tower and power station, the Spratt’s decided to forego retirement. Instead, they established the Fly In Fishing Resort. The existent buildings were repurposed to provide visitors with lodging as well as a small grocery store with bait and tackle, a bar, and a restaurant.
The remote resort grew in popularity until 1958. That was the year that Robert P. McCulloch purchased a large portion of Site Six and established a facility for the testing of outboard motors. In 1964 the runway was paved as McCulloch expanded operations.
A forgotten chapter in American military history. A remote resort where a cold beer could be enjoyed on the shore of Lake Havasu as the sun sank behind the rugged Chemehuevi Mountains. From those humble beginnings, dynamic, vibrant Lake Havasu City was born.
Mudshark Brewery and Public House is rooted in that WWII history, and a tradition of enjoying a cold beer with friends in a desert oasis.