Freeway exit sign to Zzyzx Road off Interstate 15
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Zzyzx (// ZY-zəks), formerly Camp Soda and Soda Springs, is an unincorporated community in San Bernardino County, California, United States, within the boundaries of Mojave National Preserve. It is the former site of the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa and now the site of the Desert Studies Center. The site is also the location of Lake Tuendae, originally part of the spa, and now a refuge habitat of the endangered Mohave tui chub.
The settlement is in area codes 442 and 760 and ZIP code 92309. The nearest town is Baker, California, 7 miles (11 km) north on I-15. Las Vegas, Nevada, is the nearest major city, about 100 miles (160 km) northeast.
Soda Springs, a natural spring, has long seen human activity. The area was a prehistoric quarry site, and projectile points and rock art can be found in the area. The Mojave Road ran past the spring which was guarded by the Hancock Redoubt in 1860, during the Bitter Spring Expedition and by Camp Soda Springs, garrisoned by the U. S. Army from 1867 to 1870. Later Soda Springs was the name of the station of the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad that passed there. Remnants of a wagon road stop and railroad artifacts are readily seen. Evaporative salt mining and mill sites can be found here as well.
The made-up name Zzyzx was given to the area in 1944 by Curtis Howe Springer, claiming it to be the last word in the English language. He established the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa in 1944 at the spot, which was federal land, after filing mining claims for 12,000 acres (49 km2) surrounding the springs. He used the springs to bottle his water and provide drinks for travelers through the hot desert. Springer also imported animals from around the country to attract more families to visit his ranch. He used Zzyzx until 1974, when the land was reclaimed by the government.
Word Ways magazine verified the source of the lexicography as an undated San Bernardino County map published by the Automobile Club of Southern California. The magazine characterized Zzyzx Springs as "a hydrologic feature and a privately owned spa catering to the senior citizen, about 8.5 mi (13.7 km) south of Baker on the western edge of Soda Dry Lake, off the abandoned right-of-way of the old Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad."
Zzyzx was approved as a place name by the United States Board on Geographic Names on June 14, 1984. As is the case with the road, Zzyzx, California, is the USBGN's lexicographically greatest (alphabetically last, at least in Latin alphabetical order) place name. It has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place names.
In popular culture
- A 1997 song called "Zzyzx Scarecrow" by the band Stavesacre from their album Absolutes.
- A 2003 album called Zzyzx by Zeromancer.
- A 2005 suspense film, Zzyzx, was directed by Richard Halpern.
- A 2006 thriller film, Zyzzyx Road, starring Katherine Heigl.
- A 2006 rock/acapella song called "Zzyzx Rd." by Stone Sour
- Curtis Howe Springer for more information about the health spa
- Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad
- Zzyzx (disambiguation)
- Bishop, Greg; Oesterle, Joe; Marinacci, Mike and Moran, Mark (2006). "A Utopia Spelled Z, Z, Y, Z, X". Weird California. Sterling Publishing Company. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-4027-3384-0.
- GNIS Search Results
- Parker, Quentin (2010). Welcome to Horneytown, North Carolina, Population: 15: An insider's guide to 201 of the world's weirdest and wildest places. Adams Media. pp. xii.
- Media related to Zzyzx, California at Wikimedia Commons
- USGS GNIS entries:
- Word Ways article and the main source of information for this article
- Ecological sites along U.S. Interstate 15 Small photo of road sign
- Zzyzx photos and historical information
- Feds evict radio minister from Zzyxx 1974
- Center for Land Use Interpretation site page with directions, details, photos, and map link