When we travel, we tend to bring home souvenirs from the places we visit. Now, imagine getting home a historical landmark. Is it even possible? Let’s find out how.
Robert McCulloch, an American tycoon, purchased the London Bridge in 1968. He paid $2.46 million for it and brought it to the US brick, by brick. The bridge is now found in Arizona.
What Was the Story Behind The Sale?
In the early sixties, English officials discovered that the 1831 London Bridge was sinking at a fast rate of 1 inch every eight years. It was literally falling down. The medieval bridge made of 19th-century granite survived two world wars and was doomed to collapse in the River Thames. The bridge was also not capable of withstanding heavy traffic and was only kept as a historical treasure. (Source: History)
Renovating the bridge proved to be an impractical move, so the officials deemed it better to demolish it and build a modern bridge capable of handling vehicles. But instead of simply demolishing the old, historic bridge, city councilor Ivan Luckin had a crazy idea. What if they sold the bridge to the US.
In the US, Luckin promoted the sale of the iconic bridge.
London Bridge is not just a bridge. It is the heir to 2,000 years of history going back to the first century AD, to the time of the Roman Londinium.Ivan Luckin
Buying the London Bridge
Many Americans found the sale quite absurd. Robert McCulloch found this rather interesting than far-fetched. This kind of oddity was not new to him. McCulloch was a multi-millionaire, thanks to the multiple companies he headed. He was also known to be eccentric for striking deals that most people wouldn’t even think of.
Before purchasing the London Bridge, McCulloch bought thousands of acres near Lake Havasu in Arizona and built his city. He envisioned it to be a recreational city filled with sports and activities. However, his city wasn’t gaining enough tourists to make it profitable enough.
When McCulloch heard of the sale of a historic bridge, he saw this as an opportunity to help his city attract more tourists. He soon started the negotiation process with the English officials.
McCulloch initially had difficulty negotiating the bridge’s price. The cost of dismantling the bridge was about $1.2 million. He offered to pay double that price for the bridge. Being the flashy millionaire that he was, McCulloch topped up his $2.4 million offer with $60,000. The negotiations were completed, and the bridge was officially sold in April 1968. (Source: History)
Transferring the Bridge to Arizona
The next obstacle McCulloch faced was importing the bridge to the US. The bridge was first disassembled, with each piece of brick meticulously labeled according to its position in the bridge.
Once disassembled, the bricks were packed in crates and shipped via the Panama Canal and landed on the shores of Long Beach in California. The containers were then transported by land by a fleet of trucks and delivered to Lake Havasu in Arizona.
The bricks were then reconstructed, adding steel-reinforced concrete to ensure that the bridge could sustain modern traffic. Reconstruction was completed in 1971, and the bridge was inaugurated on October 10, 1971. (Source: History)