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Lake Havasu Museum

Lake Havasu Museum of History
Lake Havasu Museum of History
Address: 320 London Bridge Rd.
Phone: 928-854-4938
Admission: $7.50 per person; children 12 and under, active Military, museum members free
Summer Hours (May-Sept): 10am-2pm Tues-Sat
Winter Hours (Oct-Apr): 10am-4pm Tues-Sat

The Lake Havasu Museum of History was created so that present and future generations would not only know the significance of the creation and development of the Lake Havasu City area but learn from the past and recognize the need to preserve the historical heritage. It is a human heritage stretching from archaic peoples to Hispanic settlers, miners, dam builders, dreamers and developers.

Overview of Permanent Exhibits

  • The history of the Native American Chemehuevi and Mohave tribes that previously inhabited the area. Learn how these resourceful people were able to thrive in the often harsh desert climate.
  • The role of the lower Colorado River and the steamboat era in bringing traders, miners and entrepreneurs to the area.
  • The building of Parker Dam in 1938 and formation of Lake Havasu. Lake Havasu is a reservoir that supplies water for much of Southern California as well as the Phoenix area.
  • How the vision of city founder Robert McCulloch created Lake Havasu City as it is today. From empty desert, Mr. McCulloch built a vibrant city that attracts visitors and residents alike.
  • The relocation of the London Bridge from the chill and fog of its former home to sunny Arizona. Learn how the bridge was dismantled and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, becoming the city’s showpiece.
  • An overview of the native wildlife that can be spotted in and around Lake Havasu City. From Desert Bighorn Sheep to coyote and several reptile species, there is an abundance of wildlife.

Details of Permanent Exhibits

Wildlife display at the Lake Havasu Museum
Wildlife display at the Lake Havasu Museum
Long before Lake Havasu or the city existed, there was a bustling community along the Colorado River made up of Native Americans that called the basin home. Most prominent among those tribes in the area were the Mohave and Chemehuevi. A visit to the museum begins with an exhibit featuring the history of the Mohave and Chemehuevi tribes. It tells of their displacement and relocation to the CRIT reservation in La Paz County, Arizona, as well as exploration of their lifestyles and cultures.

Once gold was discovered along the Colorado River, the next settlers to arrive were the miners looking for a rich strike. This exhibit displays the history of Colorado River mining in the Chemehuevi Mining District and the Lake Havasu City area. While silver, copper, and other minerals were found, the Lake Havasu area Mohave Mountains were particularly famous for gold.

Navigating the Colorado River was necessary to bring both the settlers and their supplies to the area. Native Americans were none too happy about the immigrant invasion and some skirmishes broke out along the river. White immigrants demanded the U.S. Army provide protection, thus the establishment of Fort Yuma. This also hailed the beginning of the use of steamboats on the Colorado. The steamboats delivered much-needed supplies to the fort and the immigrants. This exhibit provides the history of steamboat navigation from the first service in 1852 until the retirement of the last vessel, the Searchlight, in 1916.

Construction of Parker Dam in the 1930s marked the beginning of a new era along the Colorado, paving the way for the future. Damming the Colorado formed Lake Havasu and despite much protest and legal maneuvering, provided and continues to provide water to Southern California via the Metropolitan Water District, and the Phoenix area via the Central Arizona Project. The exhibit featuring the “deepest dam in the world” provides visitors with a look at the challenges faced by those that built the engineering marvel and some of the tools they used.

Of course, the history of Lake Havasu City began with Robert McCulloch’s discovery and purchase of the area. Exhibits featuring the development of the area are highlighted in displays focusing on McCulloch’s vision, ambition, and creativity that led to the founding Lake Havasu City.

The museum would not be complete without the exhibit of the history of the city’s centerpiece, the London Bridge. McCulloch purchased the bridge in 1968 from the city of London for a bid of $2,400,000. Twenty-two million pounds of granite (10,276 numbered pieces) were shipped from London through the Panama Canal to Long Beach, California, and trucked to Lake Havasu – a 10,000-mile journey.

Additional permanent, special, and interactive exhibits and collections also are on display at the Lake Havasu Museum of History. There are displays by local artists, monthly presentations, and programs provided by the museum. In addition, the museum houses a lending research library. Individual and group tours are available. The museum store offers gifts and books for all ages, photos, artwork prints, jewelry made from the bridge and others made by artisans from many cultures.

The museum is centrally located and approximately 0.7 miles from the London Bridge.