Robert McCulloch, along with his two siblings, inherited his
Grandfather Beggs's fortune on 1925. Pursuing engineering, he attended
Princeton University in 1928, but transferred to Stanford a year
later. He took with him his love for boat racing, and by the time he
graduated in 1932, he had won 2 national championship trophies for
outboard hydroplane racing.
Two years after he graduated, he
married Barbra Ann Briggs, whose parents were the 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 30's he sold the company to
Borg-Warner Corp for 1 million dollars.
McCulloch then started
McCulloch Aviation, which he moved to California within three years.
In 1946 he changed his company's name to McCulloch Motors. 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.
It was the chainsaw niche that McCulloch dominated, beginning with
the first chainsaw with his name on it, manufactured in 1948. By the
next year, McCulloch's 3-25 further revolutionized the market, with the
one man, light weight chainsaw.
Robert McCulloch's empire
continued to expand, with the creation of McCulloch Oil Corporation in
the 1950's. C.V, Wood, who had been involved with the planning of the
original Disneyland and the first Six Flags park in Arlington Texas,
became the president of McCulloch Oil. McCulloch Oil pursued oil and
gas exploration, land development and geothermal energy.
spite of Evinrude's market lead, McCulloch continued to pursue
McCulloch Motor's quest for the outboard market during the next
decade. This quest led him to Lake Havasu, in that search for a test
site. The search turned into something far beyond the imagination and
expectations of most people, and changed the course of Arizona history.
McCulloch was famous for innovation and new ideas, which he
brought with him to the outboard business. One of these ideas was
marketing a complete line of factory matched boat, motor, and trailer
combinations. The customer could purchase the complete package,
already put together and rigged at the factory. This idea became very
popular 25 years later with such companies as Bayliner. The McCulloch
boats were very innovative as well, with features not seen on any other
boat. But that is another story. McCulloch also produced a very
successful racing version of the 75 HP motor, with a custom lower
unit. McCulloch also had the first surface gap spark plug, 100 to 1
oil mixture, the first modern low profile fishing motor, the first
diesel powered outboard, and much more. Some projects which were in
the experimental phase were a 125 HP four cylinder, radial 2 stroke
outboard. It measured 18" wide, 26" long and 52" high and weighed 260
lbs. It was called the R-120, and incorporated a turbo-supercharger
plus re-entry turbine. It had fuel injection plus force feed
lubrication to eliminate the need for mixing gas and oil. It had power
steering, power tilt and trim and a variable pitch prop.
properly utilize his newly developed Lake Havasu test site, McCulloch
built a dynamometer boat, a virtual floating laboratory for testing his
Lake Havasu, named for the Mohave word "Havasu",
which means "blue water", sparked the imagination of McCulloch, who
purchased 3500 acres of lakeside property along Pittsburgh Point, the
peninsula that would eventually be transformed into "the island". The
property had originally been purchased from the Santa Fe Railroad, by
World War II veterans.
In 1963, on the courthouse steps of
Kingman, Arizona, McCulloch purchase a 26 square mile 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, and
the cost per acre was under $75.
McCulloch Properties, Inc., a
subsidiary of McCulloch Oil, was the division that that developed Lake
Havasu City. One of the first steps was to purchase Holly Development,
in 1964, to utilize their licensed real estate force.
McCulloch had purchased 11 Lockheed Electras, and formed McCulloch
International Airlines, to fly in prospective buyers from all over the
country. Splashy magazine ads enticed snow-weary would be customers to
take a free flight to Paradise. When they arrived, they were greeted
by one of the Holly salesmen, who taxied them around in the trademark
white Jeep. In all, there were 40 identical vehicles in the fleet,
said to be the largest contingent of white Jeeps in the world.
To spur the growth of the infant city, in 1964 McCulloch opened a
chainsaw factory in the new community. Within two years there were
three manufacturing plants, with 400 employees. Yet it was the
purchase of the London Bridge, in 1968, that gave the worldwide
exposure to the development.. McCulloch was searching for a unique
attraction for his city, which eventually took him to London.
By the early 60's, it was apparent that the London Bridge was gradually
sinking into the River Thames. It was decided that a new bridge would
need to be built. But rather than razing the bridge, it was decided to
put the historic landmark on the auction block.
his bid for the London Bridge, McCulloch doubled the estimated cost of
dismantling the structure, which was 1.2 million dollars, bringing the
price to $2,400,000. He then added on $60,000, a thousand dollars for
each year of his age. This earned him the winning bid, and in 1968 he
became the new owner of the London Bridge.
It took three years
to complete the project. The structure was dismantled brick by brick,
with each piece 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 300 miles inland.
The peninsula was then
transformed into an island, as a mile long bridge channel was dredged,
giving purpose to the transplanted landmark. Included with the bridge
purchase, were the unique lampposts, molded from French cannons
captured during the 1815 battle of Waterloo.
this created a drain on McCulloch's resources, as the cost to
dismantle, transport, and reassemble the bridge turned out to much
higher than anticipated. Consequently, the line of McCulloch outboard
motors dropped by the wayside, along with some of McCulloch's other
Lake Havasu City became a huge success, and Robert
McCulloch realized his dream of transforming the Arizona desert. He
died in 1977.
Waterman-the first outboard motor
was commonly believed for many years that Ole Evinrude invented the
outboard motor. We have all heard the story of how Ole wanted a
quicker way to cross the lake for ice cream for Bess, but three years
prior to that, Cameron B Waterman applied for a patent for the same
contraption-the outboard motor. Waterman was the first to produce and
distribute an outboard motor, and he ended up selling 30,000 of them.
He continued until about 1916, when he sold his operation and patent to
the Arrow company, and he moved on to other endeavors.
Meanwhile, Evinrude was still building and selling his outboard motors,
even after Arrow went out of business in 1924. Evinrude eventually
laid claim to the invention, an assertion that went undisputed by
Evinrude continued to claim title of inventor until
1950, when Mercury did some digging in the name of public relations.
In 1949 Mercury hired an investigator to research at the US Patent
Office, and found Waterman's patents. The company invited Waterman to
the New York Boat Show, where he was celebrated as the outboard's real
In 1950 Mercury featured Waterman in an ad sitting
on a dock with a Mercury, poking holes in the prevailing belief that
Evinrude invented the motor. Waterman, who always said he had invented
the outboard because he was tired of rowing, was pictured with the
statement: "Thanks to Cameron B Waterman, fishing is all fun because he
didn't like to row." Waterman received a new 1950 Mercury 25 for his
Waterman, who died in 1955, says that he ordered a
motorcycle in 1902, according the the Grosse Ile Historical Society in
Michigan. When he removed the engine to clean it, hanging it on the
back of his office chair, it occurred to him that he could hang it on
the transom of a rowboat, attach a propeller to it and drive it.
"If I hinge the engine to the back of the boat, it could be used
to steer as well as propel it," Waterman's account states. "Then in my
mind, I provided it with a tiller and mounted a gasoline tank near the
tiller to make the whole a self-sufficient unit. One final idea was to
allow the engine to tilt up to a horizontal position to protect it in
the absence of a keel or skeg."
"I took my drawings to a
machine shop in Detroit to a friend who agreed to build it if I would
get the motorcycle engine. I wrote to Glenn Curtiss and got a 3HP
4-cycle engine." Waterman wrote.
In February 1905 they took
their working model to Grosse Ile in the Detroit River and attached to
a 15 ft steel rowboat. "Although the river was full of icecakes, the
tryout was a complete success except for the fact that once a piece of
ice got caught between the chain and sprocket causing the chain to run
off the sprocket," Waterman said. "We rowed ashore to replace the
It was then that someone suggested Waterman dub the
invention "outboard motor", instead of "boat propelling device" or
"porta-motor" as he'd been calling it. The name stuck, and at that
point they knew it worked.
In 1907 they sold 3,000 motors and
about the same in 1908. Then in 1909, when the Evinrude hit the
market, their sales doubled, "Because that convinced people that we had
a practical machine and not a silly gadget, " Waterman said.
They sold the business in 1917 due to other interests. Waterman
entered the army during World War I, and later became a patent attorney.