Located south of Baker, CA on the edge of a large soda dry lake bed in the Mojave, Zzyzx Road is a short road which leads from the I-15 highway to a soda spring with an eclectic history. The springs were the site of a prehistoric quarry and early human activity undoubtedly taking shelter from the heat in the Oasis which is the spring site.
During the 1860s, the springs and surrounding areas host a U.S. Army camp which serviced the Mojave Road as Fort Soda Springs and a local train depot for the Tomopah and Tidewater Railroad.
In 1944, a radio evangelist, self proclaimed medical doctor and methodist minister Curtis Howe Springer filed a mining claim for 12,800 acres of land south of Baker, CA and along the coast of the large dry soda lake. The 8 miles by 3 miles track of land included the old army fort and the train depot. Mr. Springers goal was to establish a “Health Spa” for anyone who felt the need to improve their Health. The cost of a visit was free of charge, but undoubtedly he pressured his visitors to make “donations” to his organization.
The area was developed over time, and Springer named the site after his own invented word Zzyzx, as to be the last word in the dictionary, and the phrase the “last word in” was used as part of his marketing campaigns for all his endeavors. The location was built up over a period of 30 years (1944 – 1974) starting with a 20 tent camp which soon turned into a primitive concrete settlement built using laborers recruited from Los Angeles “Skid Row”. The warm soda springs were of his own manufacture which used boilers and man made pools for this natural healing site.
Years of development Zzyzx Mineral springs featured 60 room lodging, a radio station, mineral spa, a private airport dubbed the “Zyport” and or coarse a church. In addition, Curtis Springer would peddle his cures using his national and international radio broadcasts which promised cures for almost every disease. In the late 1960’s, Mr Springer gained the attention of the Federal Government for building homes for large doners to his “Ministry”. Since the original Mine claim never transfer ownership of the land to him, but rather gives him mineral rights, and he had not produce any profit from mining he was not entitled to development the land, because he did not own the land.
After loosing in court, he was evicted from the site in 1974, and in 1976 the California State University system incorporate the site into their field studies and research programs which, I am sure, has provided a far better use of the property. The property continues to operative within the Mojave National Preserve as the Desert Studies Center by the California State University. Visitors are welcome to tour the area, there are picnic tables and a self guided tour around Lake Tuendae.