[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
99°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
September 25
1970 - Lagasse family helps save Mentryville buildings as Newhall and Malibu brush fires erupt & join into worst fire in SoCal history. Twelve fires over 10 days burn 525,000 acres, kill 13 people and destroy approx. 1,500 structures. [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


Commentary 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
Sunday, Sep 25, 2016
I have taken many walks on the plains of Tanzania with Masai body guards armed with spears and occasionally rifles. It is rather unnerving to think at any moment, you could become prey to a lion, cheetah or another apex predator.
Thursday, Sep 22, 2016
If you find yourself traveling east on Interstate 40 to Needles or beyond, you might want to consider a short side trip to explore Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark. It’s located just off of National Trails Highway (Historic Route 66) about 28 miles east of the town of Ludlow.
Tuesday, Sep 20, 2016
Medicare’s annual open enrollment season begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. This is the time every year when you can sign up for a new Medicare drug or health plan, or switch the one you have now.
Tuesday, Sep 20, 2016
“Pseudologia fantastica” is defined as “a condition involving compulsive lying by a person with no obvious motivation. The affected person might believe their lies to be truth and may have to create elaborate myths to reconcile them with other facts.”
Monday, Sep 19, 2016
Edel Alonso is the best choice for new leadership and change on the COC Board of Trustees. She has the intelligence and dedication to ensure that the college’s priorities are focused on assisting students to reach their career and educational goals.
Sunday, Sep 18, 2016
We spent as much time as possible in the forests of California – camping, hiking, skiing, fishing, and at night we spent hours staring at the millions of stars above us. For a child like me, there was nothing that could compare to the amazing, continual sights, sounds and smells that the forest can offer. It’s just one eye-opening experience after another.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
I have taken many walks on the plains of Tanzania with Masai body guards armed with spears and occasionally rifles. It is rather unnerving to think at any moment, you could become prey to a lion, cheetah or another apex predator.
World’s Deadliest Creatures
1970 - Lagasse family helps save Mentryville buildings as Newhall and Malibu brush fires erupt & join into worst fire in SoCal history. Twelve fires over 10 days burn 525,000 acres, kill 13 people and destroy approx. 1,500 structures. [story]
The College of the Canyons men's soccer team played to a scoreless draw vs. West Hills Lemoore on Friday in a game that saw lots of back-and-forth action.
Men’s Soccer: COC Plays to Scoreless Draw with West Hills Lemoore
The College of the Canyons cross country program continues to improve each race, and with the Western State Conference championships a little less than a month away, the Cougars could be peaking just in time for another strong postseason run.
Cross Country: Cougars Keep Improving
1855 - Sanford & Cyrus Lyon establish Lyon's Station (for stagecoaches) near today's Sierra Hwy & Newhall Ave [story]
Professional endurance driver Carl Reese of the Santa Clarita Valley and Sebastián Montero of Quito, Ecuador, set a new world record for riding on motorcycles from the closest point on Earth to the sun to an elevation at sea-level in a single day.
2 Riders, 1 from SCV, Set World Record from Highest to Lowest Point
Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen is adding another special correspondent to its already impressive roster, announcing Tuesday that New York Times bestselling author and community activist Kim Goldman will join the Daytime Emmy-nominated show, which has just begun its second season.
SCV Nonprofit Leader Kim Goldman Joins WB’s ‘Crime Watch Daily’ as Special Correspondent
Jack and Jill of America Inc., a membership organization dedicated to nurturing future African-American leaders, has announced its 2016-2017 National Teen Board, Morgan Smith, a senior at West Ranch High School, is the Far West Region teen president from the Santa Clarita-Antelope Valley Chapter.
West Ranch Senior is Group’s Teen Leader for Western U.S.
Academy Class No. 415, which is made up of 63 male and 16 female deputy sheriffs; and 5 male and 2 female police officers from El Segundo, Inglewood, Los Angeles School and Montebello Police Departments, graduated from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Biscailuz Center Training Academy in Los Angeles during ceremonies held Friday.
86 Recruits Become Peace Officers Friday
The free test is valued at $40 and checks for 12 drugs — seven illicit and five prescription — and comes with substance abuse prevention strategies and a family drug prevention plan.
Sept. 26: Sheriff Handing Out Free Home Drug Test Kits in Val Verde
Assemblyman Scott Wilk honored California Bakery & Cafe on Friday as the 38th Assembly District Small Business of the Month.
Prieto’s Calif. Bakery & Cafe is Wilk’s Small Biz of Month
The City of Santa Clarita has been announced as one of the finalists for The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s (LAEDC) 2016 Most Business-Friendly City in Los Angeles County Award. Compton, Downey, Lakewood and Long Beach are also in the running.
Santa Clarita 1 of 5 Finalists for County’s Most Business-Friendly City (LAEDC)
The City of Santa Clarita invites nonprofit organizations interested in learning more about the 2017 Community Services and Arts Grants Program to a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at noon at City Hall.
Want City Arts or Community Services Grant? Come to Meeting
Proving education doesn’t always happen in the classroom, 23 students from Bowman High School volunteered to work next to construction workers at the Habitat for Heroes project on Centre Pointe Parkway in Santa Clarita Friday.
Bowman Students Learn Skills with Homes for Heroes
Women in California will have more reliable and effective access to birth control under a bill authored by Senator Fran Pavley and signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Friday.
Pavley Birth-Control Bill Signed Into Law
Not everyone cares if the food actually includes a certain ingredient, as long as the flavor tastes right to them. But, says Douglas Balentine, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling, if you don’t want a substitute source of the flavor you’re seeking — if, say, you want real maple syrup in your food — the information you need will be in the ingredient list on the food package.
What’s in a Name? What Every Consumer Should Know About Foods
1948 - Agua Dulce Women's Club organized [timeline]
The intersection at Whites Canyon Road and Soledad Canyon Road will experience nighttime and early morning lane closures from 7:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., on Monday, Sept. 26, and Tuesday, Sept. 27, due to construction for the Road Rehab Project.
Lane Closures Coming to Whites, Soledad Sept. 26-27
Logix Federal Credit Union donated $1,000 to Sequoia School’s biomedical curriculum, part of the cutting-edge course work from Project Lead the Way. The credit union’s contribution was about 30 percent of the cost of the program.
Logix FCU Donates $1k to Charter School for Biomed Program
Playing for the first time on Reese Field this season, The Master’s University women’s soccer team battled No. 10 Vanguard University in both teams’ Golden State Athletic Conference opener Wednesday afternoon.
Soccer: Lady Mustangs on Short End of 1-0 Conference Opener
The College of the Canyons women's golf team competed at Western State Conference tournament No. 3 on Monday, with sophomore Amanda Horii turning in a team-best score of 86 at Elkins Ranch Golf Course.
Golf: COC’s Amanda Horii Leads Team Effort on Links
The No. 11 College of the Canyons women's volleyball team picked up a 3-0 (25-17, 25-14, 25-20) victory over San Bernardino Valley College on Tuesday, to record the program's 20th consecutive regular season home win.
Volleyball: COC Sweeps San Berdo for 20th Straight Win at Home
The College of the Canyons women's soccer team finally had the opportunity to play a home match on Tuesday, with the Lady Cougars exciting the home crowd behind three goals and a shutout defensive performance to claim a 3-0 win over Los Angeles Valley College.
Soccer: Lady Cougars Win Home Opener 3-0 Over L.A. Valley
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, the stepsister and an ex-con were charged with the murder of the woman who was found dead in Gorman. Plus, Westfield Valencia Town Center saw "Elements" on display. Watch these stories and more in tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Thursday, September 22, 2016
The Saugus Union School District announced all classrooms in all 15 District schools will be outfitted with interactive touchscreen flat panel computers by November.
Interactive Touchscreen Computers Come to the Saugus Union School District
One of the biggest events of the year is coming up October 29 at College of the Canyons and volunteers are needed.
Oct. 29: Rampage Comes to COC, Volunteers Needed
The intersection at Whites Canyon Road and Soledad Canyon Road will experience nighttime and early morning lane closures from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., on Monday, September 26, 2016 and Tuesday, September 27, 2016 due to construction for the Road Rehab Project.
Commuters Warned of Lane Closures on Whites and Soledad Due to Road Rehab Project
CHP officials are investigating the death of a Littlerock man after a dump truck lost six tons of gravel on the northbound side of Highway 14 near Sand Canyon Road.
Rock Spill on SR-14 Claims Life of Motorcyclist
Eternal Valley Memorial Park and Mortuary announced that Ernie Maldonado joined the company as sales manager and that Steve Quach, who started at Eternal Valley five years ago, was promoted to assistant sales manager.
Eternal Valley Expands Team to Meet Growing Needs
A man and woman who were on the run last month with three children whose mother was found dead in Gorman have been charged with murder.
Stepsister, Ex-Con Charged with Murder of Woman Found in Gorman
If you find yourself traveling east on Interstate 40 to Needles or beyond, you might want to consider a short side trip to explore Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark. It’s located just off of National Trails Highway (Historic Route 66) about 28 miles east of the town of Ludlow.
Amboy Crater
1969 - College of the Canyons opens with first class of students in temporary quarters at Hart High School [story]
After rebounding with a pair of three-set conference wins against San Diego Christian College and Arizona Christian University, the Lady Mustangs entered Tuesday’s match against No. 13 Biola University motivated to make a statement against the NAIA perennial powerhouse, and prove that the last 10 days may have actually been a blessing in disguise.
Volleyball: Lady Mustangs Soar Over Eagles in 5-Set Thriller
The sophomore midfielder from Malawi, Africa, was in the right place at the right time in the second extra stanza, taking a pass from Trevor Mangan and shooting it past Lion keeper Brandon Gomez in the 106th minute (105:19) to win the match and set off a jubilant celebration.
Tembo Lifts TMU to 1-0 Win Over No. 8 Vanguard
Quest Diagnostics, the world's leading provider of diagnostic information services, announced Wednesday the availability of a new antibody test service that aids the diagnosis of infection with the Zika virus. The CDC has licensed the test to Quest Diagnostics and other select national reference laboratories to aid the response to the Zika emergency in the United States.
Quest Diagnostics Unveils New Test Service for Zika Virus
Tejon Ranch Co. announced Tuesday that it has signed a joint venture agreement with Majestic Realty Co., the nation’s largest privately-held industrial developer, to build an approximate 480,000-square-foot speculative industrial building at the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center.
Tejon Joint Venture to Erect 480K SF Industrial Building on Spec