Zzyzx, California is a settlement in San Bernardino County, California, formerly the site of the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa and now the site of the Desert Studies Center. The area is also the location of Lake Tunedae, one of the refuge habitats of the endangered Mohave tui chub.
Zzyzx Road is a long, part paved and part dirt, rural collector road in the Mojave Desert. It runs from Interstate 15 generally south to the Zzyzx settlement.
The settlement is in area code 760 and ZIP code 92309. The nearest town is Baker, California, 7 miles north on I-15. Las Vegas, Nevada is the nearest major city, lying 100 miles to the north.
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, as did the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad. 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 name Zzyzx, , was given to the area in 1944 by Curtis Howe Springer, claiming it to be the last word in the English language. Springer made up the word's pronunciation. 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 surrounding the springs. He used the springs to bottle his water and provide drinks for travelers through the hot desert. Curtis also imported animals from around the country to attract more families to visit his ranch. He used Zzyzx until 1974, when he was arrested by the United States Marshals for misuse of the land as well as alleged violations of food and drug laws, and the land was reclaimed by the government.
Since 1976, the Bureau of Land Management has allowed California State University to manage the land in and around Zzyzx. A consortium of CSU campuses use it as their Desert Studies Center.
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 English alphabetical order) place name.
Appearances in popular culture
- There are films titled Zzyzx and Zyzzyx Road (also called Zyzzyx Rd.) (Note the different spelling for Zyzzyx Road.)
- Michael Petracca's novel Captain Zzyzx takes its name from Zzyzx Road: the book's title is also the name of a rhythm and blues band that the protagonist, Harmon Nails III, performs in. In the book, the musician Nails saw the road sign while driving on I-15, was compelled to pull off the highway to drive down Zzyzx Road, and swore that the next band he played in would be called Captain Zzyzx.
- Michael Connelly's novel The Narrows featured Zzyzx prominently.
- Stone Sour's second album Come What(ever) May contains a song named "Zzyzx Rd."
- Stavesacre's album Absolutes has a song named "Zzyzx Scarecrow", which appears on the compilation album Collective as "Zzyzx".
- The Norwegian-American band Zeromancer named an album after the town, supposedly after they passed it while on tour.
- In 2000 computer game Sacrifice, there is a character called Zzyzx.
- There is a Magic: The Gathering card in the parody Unhinged expansion called Zzzyxas's Abyss
- Two characters in the ABC Family TV show Kyle XY were created in a secret laboratory called Zzyzx.
- Zzyzzyxx is an arcade game made by Cinematronics in 1982.
- Graphisoft's GDL language uses the "ZZYZX" parameter name for the height of their GDL objects.
- Zzyzx Road is the title of a composition by pianist Justin Solonynka Different recordings can be found on his albums Bull in a China Shop and A Better View.
- Zzyzx appears in Virgin America's promotional video called Virgin America's-Virgin Americans. The opening title says " Somewhere over Zzyzx, CA"
- Catalog clothing company The Territory Ahead offers a jacket named "ZZYZX FIELD COAT"
- The Aug 8, 2008 comic strip Drabble references Zzyzx road as a word in a spelling bee