Established on September 30, 1963, vibrant Lake Havasu City, Arizona on the shore of picturesque Lake Havasu is a newcomer in the upper Colorado River Valley. Just south of the present day city, at the mouth of the Bill Williams River, the town of Aubrey Landing, a stop for steamboats plying the river, had grown so large by October 1866 that a post office was opened.
As a supply center for area mines and ranches, the hard hewn outpost in the Arizona wilderness thrived, but for only for a brief time. By November 1886, the town was to small to warrant a post office. The saloon and hotel that had provided guests with a surprising array of modern amenities such as imported cigars and liquor’s had long since closed.
Unlike Aubrey Landing, Lake Havasu City never waned. It has evolved into one of the major destinations in the state of Arizona. Fueling that transition from remote fishing resort has been people with vision.
The story of Lake Havasu City begins with the construction of Parker Dam on the Colorado River in the 1930′s, and establishment of Site 6, an auxillary field and recreational center for the Kingman Army Airfield, during WWII.
Robert Paxton McCulloch made several fortunes, first with improvement and manufacture of chain saws, small gasoline engines and outboard motors. The he established McCulloch Oil Corporation, an umbrella company that specialized in oil and gas exploration, land development, and tapping into geothermal energy related technologies.
In search of an all season site suitable for manufacturing and testing outboard motors, McCulloch discovered Site Six. First he purchased 3,500 acres of property along Pittsburgh Point on the lake. Then in 1963 he purchased a 26-square-mile parcel of surrounding desert. At the time it was the largest single tract of state land ever sold in Arizona.
In 1964 he established a chainsaw manufacturing plant in the newly minted Lake Havasu City. Then with the help of city planning architect C.V. Wood, a former chief developer for Disneyland, McCulloch turned his attentions toward the building of a new planned community on the shore of Lake Havasu.
Working with Wood, McCulloch devised a unique plan to ensure that Lake Havasu City would have an identity. In 1962, after learning that an historic bridge in London, England would be sold at auction, McCulloch placed he winning build of $2,460,000. He then had it carefully razed with each piece numbered and chronicled.
The Herculean accomplishment of moving the bridge to Lake Havasu City and rebuilding it was recognized by Guinness. This was the record for the longest moving of a bridge. Since its inauguration the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City has become the second-largest tourist attraction in the state, coming in right after the Grand Canyon.
People possessed with vision and ambition have transformed Lake Havasu City from dusty dream to dynamic city. Cut from the cloth of men like McCulloch, Scott Stocking has played a role in making the city a destination, and a place that people are glad to call home.
Stocking launched Mudshark Brewery and Public House in September 1998. From humble beginnings as one of the oldest craft breweries in northern Arizona, Mudshark has become a leader in the industry.
The brewery is known near and far for numerous original beers. But the six standard beers named to link the brewery with the river life are the mainsty.
This winter take a break and discover the magic of Lake Havasu City. And while you are in town, stop by and discover why Mudshark is one of the leading craft beer breweries in the southwest.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America