May 8th, 2011 | Written by Lisa | No Comments

Lake Havasu's London Bridge
photo © Ken Lund

The most recognizable sight around 20,400-acre Lake Havasu is the London Bridge, moved piece-by-piece from England to this unlikely location in 1971. But Lake Havasu is also the location of 20 workable lighthouses that provide navigational aid to boaters, with 15 more planned. In fact, Lake Havasu has more lighthouses than any other lake located entirely in the United States. Considering that the first lighthouse was not built until 2000, how did this lake in the middle of the Mojave Desert become a lighthouse hotspot over the last decade? Today, Lake Havasu City is a ‘happening place’ that hosts sailing regattas, speedboat racing events, and boat shows throughout the year.

Lake Havasu's Currituck Beach Lighthouse
photo ©

Lake Havasu stretches out about 45 miles along the meandering Colorado River that forms the border between Arizona and California. Parker Dam, the genesis of Lake Havasu, was built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation between 1934 and 1938. The water stored in the lake delivers drinking water, hydropower, and irrigation water to meet the demands of the Lower Colorado River Basin. But Lake Havasu is also a recreational gem for boaters, jet skiers, and sailing enthusiasts. Because too many boaters were getting lost or beached at night without navigation lights on such a large lake, the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club began in the late 1990s to place navigation markers around the lake in a unique way: on top of lighthouses.

Lake Havasu's East Quoddy Lighthouse
photo ©

All but one of Lake Havasu’s 20 lighthouses is a smaller replica of well-known lighthouses. The first lighthouse, erected in 2000 at the Lake Havasu Marina, is not a replica but served as the inspiration for subsequent lighthouses. The most recent lighthouse was dedicated in October of 2010. Replicas on the east side of the channel are smaller versions of East Coast lighthouses. Those on the west side of the channel are replicas of West Coast lighthouses, and structures around the island are replicas from the Great Lakes. How many of these lighthouse replicas can you name? West Quoddy and Portland Head Lighthouses, Maine; Cape Hatteras and Currituck Beach Lighthouses, North Carolina; Barnegat and Sandy Hook Lighthouses, New Jersey; Alpena, Robert Manning, and White Shoals Lighthouses, Michigan; Algoma and Wind Point Lighthouses, Wisconsin; Split Rock Lighthouse, Minnesota; East Quoddy Lighthouse, New Brunswick, Canada; Buffalo Main Lighthouse, New York; Vermilion Lighthouse, Ohio; Southwest Reef Lighthouse, Louisiana; Table Bluff Lighthouse, California; and Umpqua River, Oregon (newest).

Lake Havasu's Buffalo Main Lighthouse
photo ©

Lake Havasu’s lighthouses contain rotating amber lights, Coast Guard approved, that serve as channel markers. The lights operate by solar-powered batteries. A plaque on each lighthouse provides the history of the original structure. Some of the lighthouses are accessible by land, and others can be seen only by water. The Robert Manning Light, Alpena Lighthouse, West Quoddy Lighthouse, and East Quoddy Lighthouse are some of the replicas that are accessible without a boat. But, the best way to experience Lake Havasu and its desert landscape is by boat. Boat rentals are available to explore the Arizona and California shorelines for all 20 of these Lake Havasu sentinels. Get your camera ready for this photographic adventure.

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