One of Arizona's oddest, and oldest, tourist attractions stands along the western border in Lake Havasu City. Shipped across the Pond, as they say, it's none other than England's London Bridge, the very one immortalized in the nursery rhyme in which it's falling down, falling down, falling down.
The bridge was purchased from the Brits in the late 1960s by city planner and theme-park designer C.V. Wood Jr. and town founder Robert P. McCulloch, the team who also brought us the 560-foot-tall water jet in Fountain Hills. Rebuilt along
Lake Havasu, it proved for many years to be a popular tourist draw, though today the authentic English village at its eastern end is a virtual ghost town.
The deck of London Bridge, however, remains quite active with vehicular traffic crossing Bridgewater Channel, as well as a number of foot passengers, some of whom are evidently unaware of what country, or even what dimension, they're traveling through. Expatriates of both the U.K. and of their own bodies, it seems, have been witnessed treading the span's walkways.
In one report, a woman present at the bridge's 1971 dedication in Lake Havasu City saw four people dressed in period clothing ambling a short distance away. She assumed they were just a part of the ceremony, hired as ye olde street atmosphere, but just as a number of other attendees began to notice them, the group vanished. Since then, visitors to the bridge have witnessed other apparitions on various occasions. The figures are typically clothed as though they're from another era, and will evaporate if anyone gets too close.
Such hauntings are no surprise, given the centuries of violence to occur at London Bridge. For example, an early, wooden version of the bridge served as the execution site for those accused of witchcraft. More death followed with the completion of the first stone version in 1209, though this time it was the result of the structure's very design. The archways beneath the span were so narrow, they caused violent rapids that resulted in the drowning of many boatmen who tried to cross beneath it. Plus, homes and shops stacked as high as seven stories along the bridge created terribly crowded conditions that resulted in tragedy when both ends caught fire simultaneously in 1212, trapping and killing a reported 3,000 people.
Undoubtedly one of the greatest sources of restless spirits were the countless disembodied heads on display at the structure's gates. As many as 30 noggins at a time were stuck atop pikes, dipped in tar and propped up for the viewing public like candied apples at a state fair. Criminals and enemies of the king, like the famous William Wallace, Sir Thomas More and Guy Fawkes, suffered such a fate, as did many others for well over 300 years, all exhibited at the venerable London Bridge.
The overpass that now resides in Lake Havasu City was only one incarnation of the bridge, itself built in 1831, but inhabited the same stretch above the River Thames as did the others and served as part of the overall lineage of the famous London Bridge. As such, it must have harbored much of the great structure's history, and being the only one in the line not to be demolished, carried that history with it to Arizona. Within its granite blocks were held memories of its past––memories that, should you cross the bridge some quiet night, you may witness yourself.