[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Last Word in Health | 08-28-2016
Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
55°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
January 21
1914 - Signal newspaper owner-editor Scott Newhall born in San Francisco [story]


Take a Hike | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Aug 28, 2016
zzyzx05

DianneErskineHellrigelI’ve driven to Vegas dozens of times. Five miles southwest of Baker is an off-ramp sign of a road called Zzyzx. I would always giggle at the Zzyzx Road sign when passing it. I wondered who the heck would name a road Zzyzx (pronounced “Zye-Zix”) in the first place. Such an odd name.

On this trip, I decided actually to pull off the road and get a photo of the sign. Then I decided to drive down the road and see what I could find.

Such a silly name must have been made up. And I had plenty of time to kill and lots of daylight left before I hit Vegas.

The word Zzyzx was a name that was made up by a renowned crazy quack named Curtis Howe Springer in 1944. He wanted a name that would be the very last name in the English language. I think he succeeded.

Springer established a health spa and mineral springs at Zzyzx. There was a natural spring in the area called Soda Springs. He bottled this water to sell to thirsty travelers in the desert. He set up his wife and himself in a ranch, filed mining claims for 12,800 acres of land on this spot, and imported animals to make his ranch more appealing to visitors.

zzyzx04Springer spent a good deal of time as a Los Angeles radio evangelist. He proclaimed that he was a preacher, even though he had no religious training at all. He also claimed to be a doctor, which helped in his advertising when he set up the area of Soda Springs as a mineral springs and health resort. The area was supposed to be “the last word in health,” just as Zzyzx was the last word in the English language.

Springer claimed to have degrees from many academies and universities with names he’d made up. He claimed to be the former dean of Greer College (which never existed), and founder of the Springer Schools of Humanism (nonexistent) and honorary president of the National Academy (also nonexistent). He was the editor of his own magazine called “Symposium Creative Psychologic.” He discussed subjects like “success,” “Picking a Husband For Keeps” and health-related matters.

zzyzx02Springer and his wife made a fortune selling his “snake oil” products. He shipped them all over the world. His products were supposed to cure cancer, baldness and every malady you can imagine. He was a charismatic character and the epitome of the snake-oil salesman. Although previous attempts at more traditional health spas had failed the Springers, Zzyzx seemed to catch on, and travelers from near and far scampered off to spend time at the ranch.

As the ranch became more and more popular, Springer had to build a 60-room hotel, a church and even an airstrip. He hired Skid Row bums to build it. He even built a castle, planted rows of palm trees, and the spring became a lake which he stocked with Mohave tui chub, now an endangered fish. Street names such as “Boulevard of Dreams” were fit even for Vegas.

Once he accomplished this beautiful oasis in the middle of nowhere, he added on a radio station where he could provide music, preach scripture, and rant non-stop. His station broadcast nationwide. This crazy crackpot was known often to salute the U.S. government with his middle finger.

As with all good things, Zzyzx came to an end when the government came in and busted the “King of the Quacks,” a name given to “Dr. Springer” by the American Medical Association. Springer went to jail for medical fraud and other violations. After his stint in jail, he retired to Vegas and lived there until his death in 1985.

The area of Soda Springs was taken over by the Bureau of Land Management and is now inside the beautiful Mojave National Preserve. The site is protected habitat for the endangered chub, and Cal State University has a Desert Studies Center there.

The newer buildings are well maintained and occupied. The older concrete buildings still stand, some without roofs, and some in terrible condition.

If you choose to visit Zzyzx, note that there are rattlesnakes and tons of scorpions here, so be on the lookout for them. There also could be classes in session, so be courteous.

Bring your camera and you’ll have a tall tale to tell, something similar to a story that might have been spun by good old Springer himself. Have fun. I sure did.

 

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

zzyzx06zzyzx03 zzyzx01

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

24 Comments

  1. To keep drivers alert!!!!

  2. the town wanted to be last in the atlas

  3. Great article! I’ve always wondered about this sign.

  4. Thanks, always wondered about the name.

  5. Ralph Green Ralph Green says:

    Not much there now. Pretty well deserted

  6. Zzyzx (/ˈzaɪzᵻks/ zy-zəks), formerly Camp Soda and Soda Springs, is an unincorporated community in San Bernardino County, California, United States, within the boundaries of 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.

    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 town is Baker, California, 7 miles (11 km) north on I-15. Las Vegas, Nevada, is the nearest major city, about 100 miles (160 km) northeast

  7. Have passed it many, many times myself, it’s a doozy!

  8. It always made me think of Rush, yyz lol

  9. Great camping for herpetologists. Thank you Bobby Espinosa.

  10. Dena Jones Dena Jones says:

    Googled about it on my way home from Vegas once. It was very interesting to read about the origin of this area!

  11. Went… Very interesting place…

  12. These pics were about a year ago … There were people in some classroom there… Felt very eerie

  13. Pulled off on that road many times! 🌸

  14. Very interesting…who knew!

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Related Content
RECENT COMMENTARY
Friday, Jan 20, 2017
It finally happened. The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus is closing very shortly.  There's nothing to fear over losing this circus because another is actively swelling to massive proportions. Hysteria and annihilation are the main attractions. It's the Left's Circus over the duly elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.
Thursday, Jan 19, 2017
As the council wanted to appoint someone anyway, why not appoint the candidate who came in next place in the election?
Thursday, Jan 19, 2017
More than two million people visit Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park each year. While there are many beautiful and interesting places to visit in each of those parks, there are many desert treasures that can be found outside of those national parks. One of those treasures, Trona Pinnacles, is located about 28 miles east of Ridgecrest in the Mojave Desert.
Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017
This past holiday season, I found myself in line at the airport counter, waiting to check a bag prior to a flight to visit family and friends. The gentlemen in front of me got frustrated when the customer agent said he had to pay more to check a bag because he hadn’t paid for it online beforehand.
Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017
On June 11th, 2015, SCOPE (Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment) joined with Citizens for Chiquita Canyon Compliance, a Val Verde group and local residents to file a civil rights complaint against the county of Los Angeles, complaining that the majority Spanish-speaking community of Val Verde was suffering from discrimination by the County's failure to notify of them of the massive proposed expansion of Chiquita Canyon Landfill just over the ridge from their homes.
Friday, Jan 13, 2017
There were cries from Democrats after the 2016 election demanding the new Republican domination of the House, Senate and oval office that “we” have to work together. That demand didn’t last long. The marching orders from top Democrats and the Left are to obstruct Republicans at every corner on every item at all times. New Senate Minority leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), started using the word “vetting” to make the ‘obstruction’ more palatable. Don’t fall for it; it’s intentionally designed obstruction, period.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1914 - Signal newspaper owner-editor Scott Newhall born in San Francisco [story]
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, an overnight and early morning storm caused flooding, downed trees, and accidents throughout SCV Friday. Plus, the sole victim of a plane crash in Lake Hughes has been identified. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Friday, January 20, 2017
News and views from College of the Canyons.
News from COC: The Bottom Line, Winter 2016/17
A series of storms is sweeping through Los Angeles County, with the final and strongest one predicted to affect the area late Saturday night through Monday. The combined rainfall totals for all three storms could be 3.00-6.00” for coastal and valley areas, with up to 9.00” possible in some foothill and mountain areas. Potential impacts include flash flooding and debris flows for recent burn areas, rock and mudslides along canyon roads, urban and small stream flooding, significant travel delays, isolated power outages, and dangerous driving conditions.
L.A. County Braces for a Series of Storms
Medical examiners identified a man whose body was found on Christmas Day near Agua Dulce.
Human Remains Found in Agua Dulce Identified
Parents and students will be offered information about healthy study habits and managing mental health at the William S. Hart Union High School District’s Parent and Student Empowerment (PASE) Information Night.
Hart District to Discuss Mental Health, Study Habits
Coroner’s officials identified the sole victim of a Lake Hughes plane crash Friday.
Plane Crash Victim Identified
10 Things to Expect at Thursdays @ Newhall
10 Things to Expect at Thursdays @ Newhall
On Tuesday, February 7 at 7:00 P.M, Trinity Classical Academy’s Speaker Series welcomes Dr. Hugh Ross, PhD, astronomer, best-selling author, and Founder of Reason To Believe.
Feb. 7: Trinity Classical Academy’s Speaker Series
The Board of Supervisors has appointed Dr. Christopher Rogers to the position of Acting Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner, effective Friday.
County Names New Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner
The California High-Speed Rail Authority will be hosting five community open house meetings in the Bakersfield to Palmdale Project Section starting next Saturday, January 28 in Rosamond.
California High-Speed Rail Authority to Host Public Meetings
Valencia High School students take honors at 2017 Socal Career Development Conference.
VHS Students Take Honors at Socal Career Development Conference
Princess Cruises received top honors in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards, being named “Best Ocean Cruise Line” after the cruise line was nominated by cruise industry experts and ultimately voted on by USA TODAY readers. In addition, Princess Cruises was recognized for “Best Cruise Ship Entertainment,” “Best Cruise Ship Dining” and “Best Cruise Ship for Families.”
Princess Cruises Named in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice
Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, has announced his committee appointments including his selection to serve as Vice Chair of the Committee on Natural Resources.
Acosta Named to Several Committees
Two senior al-Qaida operatives were killed recently in separate U.S. airstrikes in Syria, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in two statements.
Two al-Qaida Operatives Killed in Syria
In anticipation of a more severe storm on Sunday, Bouquet Canyon Road is scheduled to be closed between the gates at 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 22, until conditions and inspection allow.
County Closes Some Canyon Roads Due to Storm
The County Interim Health Officer is extending a Cold Weather Alert due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for low temperatures. Wind chill temperatures are expected to be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Affected areas include:
Jan. 20- 24: Cold Weather Alert Issued
The California Transportation Commission (CTC) has adopted 49 projects, valued at more than $127 million, to support needed upkeep on California’s aging roads and bridges, make upgrades to transit and rail systems and encourage use of alternative forms of transportation, including biking and walking.
Caltrans Adopts 49 Projects Worth $127 Million
It finally happened. The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus is closing very shortly.  There's nothing to fear over losing this circus because another is actively swelling to massive proportions. Hysteria and annihilation are the main attractions. It's the Left's Circus over the duly elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.
The new circus in town
Twelve Golden Valley High School students and two teachers made the trip to Washington D.C. to watch the inauguration of Donald Trump as the United States of America’s 45th President.
GVHS Students in D.C. to Witness Inauguration
A flash flood warning has been issued for the Santa Clarita Valley. Residents living in recent burn areas, especially the Sand Fire burn area, take precautions to avoid mudslides and flooding.
Jan. 20: Flash Flood Warning In Effect for SCV
Newhall Crime and Public Safety Report for Week of 01/09/17- 01/15/17
Crime Blotter: Petty Theft, Grand Theft in Newhall
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station will host the fifteenth Sheriff’s Community Academy beginning February 28, 2017.
Submit Application to Upcoming SCV Sheriff Community Academy
Newhall Crime and Public Safety Report for Week of 01/09/17- 01/15/17
Crime Blotter: Grand Theft, Petty Theft in Newhall
1993 - Hart High grad Dee Dee Myers (1979) becomes first female White House press secretary [story]
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, Supervisor Kathryn Barger is proposing a motion to establish a $20,000 reward for information about the suspect responsible for a fatal hit-and-run. Plus, a new event for the 2017 Cowboy Festival lineup. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Thursday, January 19, 2017
The Board of Supervisors will be asked to approve a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger establishing a $20,0000 reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of a suspect or suspects responsible for the hit-and-run death of a 15 year-old girl in Canyon Country.
Reward Offered in Hit-And-Run Death of Canyon Country Girl
The public is invited to participate in a stakeholder forum to learn about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and provide input regarding the formation of a Groundwater Sustainability Agency for the Santa Clara River Valley East Subbasin, which underlies most of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Jan. 24: Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Meeting
With the interest being generated by the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has committed resources to ensuring a state of readiness and preparedness. Although we anticipate many will express their views and opinions of the democratic process, we DO NOT have any specific or credible information indicating that any areas of Los Angeles County will substantially affected or disrupted.
Sheriff Ready for Inauguration Day Protests
Officials with the Coroner’s Office have released the identity of a woman killed in a fatal crash off Kelly Johnson Parkway.
Victim of Fatal Crash Near Walmart Identified
As the council wanted to appoint someone anyway, why not appoint the candidate who came in next place in the election?
Human Nature 101
The 2017 USA Swimming Open Water National Championships (featuring stand-alone Junior National Championships for the first time) are slated for May 19 through 21 at Castaic Lake.
May 19-21: Open Water Nationals Returns to Castaic Lake
VIA is hosting its 2017 Employment Law Update, presented by Brian Koegle and David Poole of Poole & Shaffery, LLP on Tuesday, February 21.
Feb. 21: 2017 Employment Law Update
The Los Angeles County Arts Commission is accepting applications from organizations seeking support for music programming at their facility or designated location.
March 1: Submit Application for ‘Free Concerts in Public Sites’ Program
Hart Regiment is now offering a simple way to contribute to its organization and help support the Regiment as it continues to work towards excellence.
Hart Regiment Offering Simple Way to Support Organization
Local Realtors during 2016 assisted 2,493 sales of existing single-family homes throughout the Santa Clarita Valley while the annual price rose 6.3 percent, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported today.
SCV 2016 Home Sales Increase, Annual Prices Rise