Tuesday, January 4, 2011


At this time of year there's a lot of traffic between Las Vegas and the huge metropolitan centers to the south west of the gambling town.  In spite of promises for years of a fast rail system, the main way to traverse the long stretch desert is via the 15 Freeway.  It's a pretty boring journey.

Collecting samples from the man made lake at Zzyzx

You know you're getting closer when you hit Baker - home of the world's tallest thermometer!  If you can drag yourself away from this truly bland spectacle and rejoin the 15, you will soon find yourself passing by a sign to Zzyzx.  Most people wonder what the place can be, and why is it called  by that strange name.

A four-mile dirt road will take you to Zzyzx, which is now the Desert Study Center, run by the State of California.  But it used to be the headquarters of an organization run by Dr. Curtis H. Springer.  He was granted a mining contract by the federal government in the '30's, but decided to found a health spa, selling what we would call "quack" medicines.  He also delievered religious radio programs.

In 1974, the authorities took the land back as it was not being used for its original purpose, but the name the Doctor gave it remains.  He called it Zzyzx as he wanted to have the last word in the encyclopedia.  I guess he succeeded in that endeavor.

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