Zzyzx, California

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Zzyzx, California
unincorporated community
Zzyzx, showing Lake Tuendae (left) and the now-Desert Studies Center
Zzyzx, showing Lake Tuendae (left) and the now-Desert Studies Center
Zzyzx, California is located in California
Zzyzx, California
Zzyzx, California
Location of Zzyzx in California
Coordinates: 35°8′35″N 116°6′15″W / 35.14306°N 116.10417°W / 35.14306; -116.10417Coordinates: 35°8′35″N 116°6′15″W / 35.14306°N 116.10417°W / 35.14306; -116.10417
Country United States
State California
County San Bernardino
Time zone Pacific (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 92309
Area codes 442/760
GNIS feature ID 1662336

Zzyzx (/ˈzzɪks/ ZY-ziks), formerly Soda Springs, is an unincorporated community in San Bernardino County, California, United States, within the boundaries of the Mojave National Preserve. It is the former site of the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa[1] 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.

Interstate 15 exit sign for Zzyzx Road

Zzyzx Road is a 4.5-mile-long (7.2 km), 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 codes 442 and 760 and ZIP Code 92309. The nearest populated area is the small town of Baker, California, 7 miles (11 km) north on I-15. Las Vegas, Nevada, is the nearest major city, about 100 miles (160 km) northeast.

History

Soda Springs

Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad railbed crossing Soda Lake at Zzyzx

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.

Zzyzx

Old spas at Zzyzx

Curtis Howe Springer made up the name Zzyzx and gave it to the area in 1944, claiming it to be the last word in the English language.[2][3] 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.[4]

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.

Lexicography

The name appeared as "Zzyzx Springs" in Dmitri Borgmann's 1967 book Beyond Language. In 1977 Borgman noted his source as being "an old, undated map of San Bernardino County published by the Automobile Club of Southern California" and repeated his description of the settlement as being "a hydrologic feature and privately owned spa in San Bernardino County, California, about 8.5 miles south of Baker, on the western edge of Soda Dry Lake, off the abandoned right-of-way of the old Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad."[5] After Borgmann's book, the 1973 Hammond Ambassador World Atlas began to show the place, labeling it as "Zzyzx" without the "Springs"; the 1976 Rand-McNally Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide followed suit.[5]

Zzyzx as a settlement, and Zzyzx Spring as a water feature, were approved as a place name by the United States Board on Geographic Names on June 14, 1984.[6] 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.[7] It has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place names.[citation needed]

In popular culture

See also

References

  1. ^ Bishop, Greg; Oesterle, Joe; Marinucci, Mike & Moran, Mark (2006). "A Utopia Spelled Z, Z, Y, Z, X". Weird California. Sterling Publishing Company. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-4027-3384-0. 
  2. ^ PhanArt: The Art of the Fans of Phish 1618426583 Pete Mason - 2009 PA: What's up with ZZYZX Rd. on the way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas? ZZYZX: In 1944 Curtis Howe Springer decided to just claim some land in the desert to create a health spa. He called it Zzyzx so he could be have the last word in the ..."
  3. ^ Rhymes or Porcupines 1476257698 Zzyzx Rd Sign, 1997. Two syllables make up this most unusual word. One of the strangest.....you've ever heard. The first part is Zi, the second is Zicks Together they form the name......Zzyzx! Zzyzx Road leads to Tork's ..."
  4. ^ "Week of April 8, 1974". Mr Pop History. 
  5. ^ a b Borgmann, Dmitri A. (February 1977). "At the Outer Limits". Word Ways. Morristown, NJ: A. Ross Eckler. 10 (2): 120. Retrieved December 12, 2015. 
  6. ^ Eckler, A. Ross (February 1996). "Zzyzx". Word Ways. Morristown, NJ: A. Ross Eckler. 29 (1): 22–24. ISSN 0043-7980. Retrieved December 12, 2015.  Text also in""Zzyzx"". Archived from the original on February 21, 2001. Retrieved December 12, 2015. 
  7. ^ Search for "Zzz" and "Zzy" at http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/ . Retrieved December 12, 2015.

External links

  • USGS GNIS entries:
    • U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Zzyzx
    • U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Zzyzx Airstrip
    • U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Zzyzx Spring
  • Zzyzx photos and historical information
  • Center for Land Use Interpretation site page with directions, details, photos, and map link
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