Where the Water Flows
Lake Havasu City Water/Ways
Bill Williams River
London Bridge Canal
Lake Havasu City ~ Host Site Profile
Sustaining a Region
Lake Havasu City is located in far western Arizona, in Mojave County. Lake Havasu started to fill when Parker Dam was built across the Colorado River in 1938. The river is a major source of water not just for the immediate area, but for Southern California and central Arizona as well. The Central Arizona Project (CAP) draws water from the river by way of the lake and transports it to Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties for agricultural and municipal use. The Colorado River and Lake Havasu attract more than 775,000 visitors to the city every year. Water sustains Lake Havasu City's thriving tourism industry as people visit or move to the community to boat, fish, swim, and enjoy recreational water activities.
Long before the Colorado River was dammed, the Chemehuevi people lived along its banks. Their communities lay on a north-south travel and trade route that stretched from Central America to Colorado. The Chemehuevi lost their traditional lands twice: when the U.S. government seized them in 1853, and again in 1935, when the reservation established in 1907 was taken back for the Parker Dam project. After this loss, the Chemehuevi lobbied for federal recognition, which was granted in 1970. The tribe is based on a 32,000-acre reservation that hugs the western shore of the lake, across from Lake Havasu City.
Robert McCulloch, famous for his chainsaw company, thought remote Lake Havasu would be a good place to test outboard motors. He soon realized that vacationers and retirees might be attracted to the area if he developed a resort community there. Only a single poorly maintained road led to the lake in the 1960s, so McCulloch sold home lots to investors who were ferried in by air. He was right about the lake's allure, and Lake Havasu City incorporated in 1978. Workers in travel and tourism make up the largest category of employees in the city. Visitors spend about $171 million in Lake Havasu City every year. The top tourist draw is the lake itself, which offers fishing, boating and other water sports, as well as camping along its non-urban shores. London Bridge is also a popular attraction. It was removed from its original site spanning the Thames River and shipped to Lake Havasu City, where it opened to sightseers in 1971.