Zzyzx Road

If you ever drive from LA to Las Vegas, you'll encounter Zzyzx Road just outside of Baker, CA.

Many people wonder about the origin of this name. It came about, indirectly, because of the invention of the telephone, which led to the publication of phone directories, which then led people to want to have either the first or last name in the directory.

Entrepreneur Curtis Springer decided he wanted to be the last name in the directory, so when he opened a health spa at a natural springs in the Mojave Desert he called it Zzyzx Springs, so he could promote it as "the last word in health." By 1965 he had convinced the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to rename the road running to the springs Zzyzx Road. (It used to be Soda Road).

However, it turned out that Springer didn't own the land on which he built his health spa. He was squatting there illegally. And after 30 years of legal action, the Bureau of Land Management finally succeeded in kicking him off it. Since then, the land around there has been managed by California State University, which uses it as a Desert Studies Center.

It's been noted elsewhere on WU that several movies have been named after Zzyzx Road, including the record-holder for the lowest-grossing Hollywood movie ever.

More info: wikipedia

Los Angeles Times - Nov 20, 1945

Springer wasn't the only person who used the name Zzyzx to be last in the directory. There was also a Jack Zzyzx in Albuquerque, and Isadore Zzyzzx in Madison, Wisconsin. Vladamir Zzyzz took last position in the Pittsburgh directory.

I think that the Internet has made it less popular to invent z-themed last names, since not many people use phone directories any more. Sometimes one will be dropped on my front door step, and I just throw it in the trash.

Albuquerque Journal - Dec 3, 1988

     Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 20, 2017
     Category: Odd Names

Curtis Howe Springer was a popular Radio evangelist who used his show as a platform to advertise the "wonderful Christian healing power" of the waters at Zzyzx, which was actually a fake hot spring that relied on boilers to heat the pools, and a ton of quack patent medications. Interesting guy.
Posted by PupTentacle on 06/20/17 at 11:05 AM
We almost gave our Son a middle name ZZYZX.

My wife and I spent a lot of time on that road to Utah and we liked the uniqueness of the name.

We told our kids the reason the road was called ZZYZX is that road people had a lot of leftover letters that they needed to get rid of.
Posted by Ed on 06/20/17 at 07:16 PM
Instead of throwing your unwanted phone directory in the trash, please recycle it.
Posted by Joshua Zev Levin, Ph.D. on 06/22/17 at 07:02 AM
Joshua -- don't worry. They always go in recycling. Here in San Diego the city gives us bins for recycling and regular trash. Both get put out by the curb on the same day. When I said I throw the directories in the trash, I just wasn't being very precise with my language.
Posted by Alex on 06/22/17 at 09:40 AM
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