Editor’s note: This is the third in a weekly republishing of historical newspaper clippings chronicling the birth of Lake Havasu City. These stories will publish on Sunday leading up to the celebration of the city’s 50th anniversary of the development of the Irrigation and Drainage District in September 1963 that began it all. Please enjoy this trip down memory lane. Anyone that would be interested in sharing their memories of Lake Havasu City (or Site Six as the area was known) “before the bridge” is encouraged to contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Today’s News-Herald will be publishing a commemorative anniversary issue Sept. 29.
Originally Published in the Lake Havasu City Herald, May 1964:
The attitudes of the nation’s headline writers could be summed up in the word “awe”. In sections of the country where vast land developments are rare–perhaps because thousands of acres are not usually available–the sheer size of the City project created a strong impression.
Stories and pictures about Robert P. McCulloch planner C.V. Wood and aerial photographs of the project appeared as far east as New York and New Jersey…as far south as Florida.
“Local angles” were applied here and there. In Lima, Ohio, the News headlined: Free Enterprisers at Work. The Detroit News, probably carrying the story during a snow storm, captioned it somewhat enviously: Arizona’s Desert Paradise. And a somewhat familiar vein was mined by the Frederick, Maryland, Post, which topped the story: See Unlimited Future in Vast Arizona Desert.
Possibly the most purely local angle to color the Lake Havasu City story featured developer Robert P. McCulloch with the headline: Former Local Man Builds Arizona City! It appeared in the Milwaukee (Wis.) journal, hometown of Robert McCulloch.
West Most Interested
What states showed the greatest interest in Lake Havasu City? The West, naturally, but there was a surprising amount of coverage in Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
On a regional basis, 9 Southern states reported the city’s birth; 5 Eastern and 5 Midwestern states followed suit. The remainder was 5 Western and 2 Southwestern states.
It was in the West, where the public has experience with the profitable possibilities of land development, that the Lake Havasu City story attracted most attention.
The Los Angeles Times Real Estate section front-paged the story under the headline: Lake Havasu Site of Huge Development. A week later, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, in a section page-one story bannered: The Story of Lake Havasu: A Mirage Turns Real. Both newspapers, with those in Arizona, have carried frequent progress reports.
Columnist Dick Lee, in the Phoenix Gazette, wrote, “The building of Lake Havasu is progressing at an amazingly rapid pace.”
Intrigued by the tax pressures that contributed to the decision to building Lake Havasu City, Business and Financial Editor Thomas Kelland of the Phoenix Republic topped his story: Lake Havasu Development Started from Jump in Coast Land Values.
Art Volkerts, Managing Editor of the Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press-Democrat, saw Lake Havasu City as a “new concept” and wrote, “Usually developers build the city and then look for industry. McCulloch Properties, Inc. are doing it the other way around. They are bringing in industry and then watching the city grow around it.”
Sports Publication Happy
As was expected, the advent of Lake Havasu City is being watched by sporting activity writers with great interest. Typical was the story in the magazine, Boating News, which contained this passage:
“The rising young city will be tailor-made for outdoorsmen, just as Lake Havasu itself was tailor-made when it was created in 1938 by the construction of Parker Dam on the Lower Colorado River.”
Big cities and little recorded the birth of the new city. Whether it was the Paxtucket Valley Times in West Warwick, Rhode Island, the Culpepper, Virginia, Star-Exponent, or the Owoso, Michigan, Argus-Press, they all decided that Lake Havasu City was interesting news for their readers.