by Ross Eckler
Word Ways, 1996
In an article in the February 1974 Word Ways, Dmitri Borgmann nominated Zzyzx Springs as the alphabetically-last United States place name.
In addition to Zzyzx Springs, there exists a Zzyzx Road, a 4 1/2-mile dirt road leading from Interstate 15 to Zzyzx Springs.
The story of Zzyzx Springs is the story of Curtis Howe Springer who, in 1944, settled without a by-your-leave on 12,800 acres of Mohave desert land, on a tract about eight miles long and three wide. On it he erected a 60-room hotel, a church, a health spa with mineral baths in the shape of a cross, a castle, a radio station and several other buildings. He even constructed a private airstrip which he called Zyport.
Springer identified himself as a physician and a Methodist minister, but in fact he was neither. For thirty years he broadcast a daily religious and health program from a radio studio at Zzyzx Springs which was carried, at its peak, by 323 stations in the US and other countries ... He urged his listeners to send him donations for miraculous cures for minor ailments as well as illnesses as serious as cancer ... [using] his magic potions (concoctions of celery, carrot and parsley juice)...
Retirees gave Springer their life savings for the privilege of staying in spartan quarters at the ranch. Vacationers stayed at the hotel for a few days at a time to enjoy the waters
These enterprises thrived from 1944 until 1974, when federal marshals finally arrested him for alleged violations of food and drug laws and unauthorized use of federal land. Zzyzx Springs and all the improvements were confiscated by the Bureau of Land Management, and Springer was found guilty and spent a few months in jail. He died in Las Vegas in 1986 at the age of 90.
Since 1976 Zzyzx Springs, now simply known as Zzyzx, has functioned as the Desert Studies Center, a teaching and research station administered by the California State University system ... under a 25-year cooperative management agreement with the Bureau of Land Management