Robert P. McCulloch

Last updated
Robert Paxton McCulloch
Born(1911-05-11)May 11, 1911
DiedFebruary 25, 1977(1977-02-25) (aged 65)
Occupation Entrepreneur, industrialist, city founder
Spouse(s)Barbra Ann Briggs

Robert Paxton McCulloch (May 11, 1911 February 25, 1977) was an American entrepreneur from Missouri, best known for McCulloch chainsaws and purchasing the "New" London Bridge, which he moved to one of the cities he founded, Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

A chainsaw is a portable, mechanical saw which cuts with a set of teeth attached to a rotating chain that runs along a guide bar. It is used in activities such as tree felling, limbing, bucking, pruning, cutting firebreaks in wildland fire suppression and harvesting of firewood. Chainsaws with specially designed bar and chain combinations have been developed as tools for use in chainsaw art and chainsaw mills. Specialized chainsaws are used for cutting concrete. Chainsaws are sometimes used for cutting ice, for example for ice sculpture and in Finland for winter swimming. Someone who uses a saw is a sawyer.

London Bridge (Lake Havasu City) bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, USA

London Bridge is a bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It was built in the 1830s and formerly spanned the River Thames in London, England. It was dismantled in 1967 and relocated to Arizona. The Arizona bridge is a reinforced concrete structure clad in the original masonry of the 1830s bridge, which was purchased by Robert P. McCulloch from the City of London. McCulloch had exterior granite blocks from the original bridge numbered and transported to America to construct the present bridge in Lake Havasu City, a planned community he established in 1964 on the shore of Lake Havasu. The bridge was completed in 1971, and links an island in the Colorado River with the main part of Lake Havasu City.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Lake Havasu City is a city in Mohave County, Arizona, United States. According to 2010 census, the population of the city was 52,527 people. It is served by Lake Havasu City Airport. Lake Havasu City is geographically isolated from the other cities in Mohave County and is the southernmost community of the Las Vegas–Henderson, NV–AZ combined statistical area.



Robert Paxton McCulloch was born May 11, 1911, in Missouri to Richard McCulloch and Mary Grace Beggs. [1] His grandfather, John I. Beggs, made his fortune by implementing Thomas Edison's electrical powerplants in cities around the world, manufacturing and selling electric trolley cars, and founding Milwaukee's public utility system. McCulloch, along with his two siblings, inherited his grandfather's fortune in 1925. [2]

Missouri U.S. state in the United States

Missouri is a state in the Midwestern United States. With over six million residents, it is the 18th-most populous state of the Union. The largest urban areas are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia; the capital is Jefferson City. The state is the 21st-most extensive in area. Missouri is bordered by eight states : Iowa to the north, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee to the east, Arkansas to the south and Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska to the west. In the South are the Ozarks, a forested highland, providing timber, minerals and recreation. The Missouri River, after which the state is named, flows through the center of the state into the Mississippi River, which makes up Missouri's eastern border.

John I. Beggs American businessman

John Irvin Beggs was an American businessman. He was associated closely with the electric utility boom under Thomas Edison. He was also associated with Milwaukee, St. Louis, Missouri and other regional rail and interurban trolley systems. Beggs is also known for developing modern depreciation techniques for business accounting and for being one of the early directors of what became General Electric.

Thomas Edison American inventor and businessman

Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman who has been described as America's greatest inventor. He developed many devices in fields such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures. These inventions, which include the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb, have had a widespread impact on the modern industrialized world. He was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of organized science and teamwork to the process of invention, working with many researchers and employees. He established the first industrial research laboratory.

Two years after he graduated from Stanford University, he married Barbra Ann Briggs, whose father was Stephen Foster Briggs of Briggs and Stratton. His first manufacturing endeavor was McCulloch Engineering Company, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There he built racing engines and superchargers. In his early 30s, he sold the company to Borg-Warner Corporation for US$1 million. [3]

Stanford University Private research university in Stanford, California

Leland Stanford Junior University is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is known for its academic achievements, wealth, close proximity to Silicon Valley, and selectivity; it ranks as one of the world's top universities.

Stephen Foster Briggs was an American engineer, co-founder of the Briggs & Stratton manufacturing company, and founder of Outboard Marine Corporation.

United States dollar Currency of the United States of America

The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories per the United States Constitution since 1792. In practice, the dollar is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units, but is occasionally divided into 1000 mills (₥) for accounting. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes that are denominated in United States dollars.

McCulloch then started McCulloch Aviation; and, in 1946, he changed his company's name to McCulloch Motors Corporation. Building small gasoline engines, his competitors included his in-laws and Ralph Evinrude. Evinrude led the market for boat motors, while Briggs and Stratton pulled ahead in the lawn mower and garden tractor market.

McCulloch Motors Corporation manufacturer of chainsaws

McCulloch Motors Corporation is an American manufacturer of chainsaws and other outdoor power tools. The company was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1943 by Robert Paxton McCulloch as a manufacturer of small two-stroke gasoline engines and introduced its first chainsaw in 1948, the Model 5-49. McCulloch and its brand are owned by Husqvarna.

Ralph S. Evinrude was an American business magnate best known for being the Chairman of Outboard Marine Corporation, and the husband of singer and entertainer Frances Langford.

Lawn mower Machine that uses one or more revolving blades to cut a lawn to an even height

A lawn mower is a machine utilizing one or more revolving blades to cut a grass surface to an even height. The height of the cut grass may be fixed by the design of the mower, but generally is adjustable by the operator, typically by a single master lever, or by a lever or nut and bolt on each of the machine's wheels. The blades may be powered by manual force, with wheels mechanically connected to the cutting blades so that when the mower is pushed forward, the blades spin, or the machine may have a battery-powered or plug-in electric motor. The most common self-contained power source for lawn mowers is a small internal combustion engine. Smaller mowers often lack any form of propulsion, requiring human power to move over a surface; "walk-behind" mowers are self-propelled, requiring a human only to walk behind and guide them. Larger lawn mowers are usually either self-propelled "walk-behind" types, or more often, are "ride-on" mowers, equipped so the operator can ride on the mower and control it. A robotic lawn mower is designed to operate either entirely on its own, or less commonly by an operator by remote control.


It was the chainsaw niche that McCulloch dominated, beginning with the first chainsaw with his name on it, manufactured in 1948. McCulloch's chainsaw was used to cut lake ice and trees. By the next year, McCulloch's 3-25 further revolutionized the market with the one man, light weight, chainsaw. [3]

Oil & Development

In the 1950s, McCulloch started McCulloch Oil Corporation, which pursued oil and gas exploration, land development, and geothermal energy.

In spite of Evinrude's market lead, McCulloch continued to pursue the outboard market during the next decade. This led him to Lake Havasu in search of a test site. McCulloch purchased 3,500 acres (14 km2) of lakeside property along Pittsburgh Point. In 1963, on the courthouse steps of Kingman, Arizona, McCulloch purchased a 26 square miles (67 km2) parcel of barren desert that would become the site for Lake Havasu City. At the time it was the largest single tract of state land ever sold in Arizona, [3] and the cost per acre was under US$75.

Kingman, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Kingman is a city in and the county seat of Mohave County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 28,068. The nearby communities of Butler, and Golden Valley bring the Kingman area total population to over 45,000. Kingman is located about 105 miles (169 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada and about 165 miles (266 km) northwest of the state capital, Phoenix.

To spur the growth of the city, in 1964 McCulloch opened a chainsaw manufacturing plant there. Within two years there were three manufacturing plants, with some 400 employees. [3] Other communities developed by McCulloch Oil include Fountain Hills, Arizona, Pueblo West, Colorado, and Spring Creek, Nevada. [4]

Purchase of London Bridge

In 1968, McCulloch was searching for a unique attraction for his city, which eventually took him to London. By the early 1960s it was apparent that John Rennie's 1831 "New" London Bridge was gradually sinking into the River Thames and the City of London Corporation decided that a new bridge was needed. Rather than demolish the existing bridge, they decided to auction the historic landmark.

When casting his bid for the bridge, McCulloch doubled the estimated cost of dismantling the structure, which was US$1.2 million, bringing the price to US$2.4 million. He then added on US$60,000, a thousand dollars for each year of his age at the time he estimated the bridge would be raised in Arizona. [3] His gesture earned him the winning bid, although there was very little competition. [5]

Numbered stones can still be seen at London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona London Bridge Numbered Stone 5G78.jpg
Numbered stones can still be seen at London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona

It took three years to complete the project. The structure was dismantled block by block, with each section marked and numbered. The granite pieces were stacked at the Surrey Commercial Docks, and then were shipped through the Panama Canal to Long Beach, California. From Long Beach, the granite blocks were trucked inland 300 miles (500 km). The bridge was reassembled by matching the numbered stones and filling beneath the bridge with native soil for support during reconstruction. The work was done by Sundt Construction.

The attraction was opened on October 10, 1971 with elaborate fanfare: fireworks, a parade, entertainment, and celebrities, such as Bonanza's Lorne Greene and dignitaries such as the Lord Mayor of London. [3]

With the purchase of the bridge, McCulloch accelerated his development campaign, increasing the number of flights into the city. At the time, the airport was located on the island. The free flights to Lake Havasu lasted until 1978 and reportedly they totalled 2,702 flights, bringing in 37,000 prospective buyers. [3]

A popular urban legend is that McCulloch mistakenly believed that he was buying the more impressive Tower Bridge. London bridge had been heavily marketed by the London Council in an effort to sell it worldwide. Ivan Luckin, the council member who sold the bridge, has always stated that London sold the bridge honestly. [5]


McCulloch died February 25, 1977, in Los Angeles of an accidental overdose of alcohol and barbiturates. [6] [7]

World records

Companies founded

Cities founded

Silverlakes, California

Other inventions

McCulloch also developed a centrifugal supercharger for automotive use. At first, these were produced and sold under the McCulloch name; but, in 1956, the supercharger division was renamed Paxton Superchargers. Such notable cars as the 1954-55 Kaiser Manhattan and the 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk and Ford Thunderbird F-Type had a McCulloch/Paxton Supercharger. The supercharger was also used in CO2 scrubbers on Navy submarines. The company produced one prototype automobile, with a hard top that retracted over the trunk, the Paxton Phoenix. The 1953 vehicle promoted alternative fuels and had a proposed steam engine. The division was sold in 1958, becoming Paxton Automotive. The firm is still in business.

McCulloch's diverse interests continued into the last years of his life. In 1971, the same year the London Bridge officially opened, he built his first aircraft in Lake Havasu City. It was the McCulloch J-2 Gyroplane, a hybrid combination of helicopter and airplane, and was tested by NASA pilot James Patton, in the summer of 1973. His dream was to offer "an airplane in every garage", promoting a seemingly simple aircraft that was easy to fly and could take off from a driveway. Although he manufactured about 100 of the aircraft, the market never materialized.



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  1. "Illness Fatal to McCulloch". The Milwaukee Journal . August 29, 1940. Local News, p. 1. Retrieved February 27, 2015 via Google News.
  2. Linden, Mary Sue McCulloch (1992). Suzie's Story:The Autobiography of Socialite, Philanthropist & World Traveler. Rainbow Books. p. 7. ISBN   0-935834-87-7.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Holmes, Bobbi Ann Johnson Holmes. "Lake Havasu City History". Havasu Magazine. Robeth Publishing LLC. Retrieved 2006-12-17.
  4. "History of MAXXAM Inc. – FundingUniverse" . Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  5. 1 2 White, Grelle (27 March 2002). "How london Bridge was sold to the States". This is Local London. Newsquest media Group. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
  6. "The bridge that crossed an ocean - BBC News". Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  7. FEB. 27, 1977 (1977-02-27). "New Finding in McCulloch Death - The New York Times". Retrieved 2018-09-24.