My waitress opened by correcting the pronunciation: "Zee-ZIX."
I can understand why a waitress or anyone in the hospitality business might become sarcastic. First, being sardonic is not an offensive weapon. Its a defense mechanism designed to protect against...in this case, the annoyance of being forced to respond to the same stupid question over and over. On the other hand, the most industrious souls, especially those who work directly for their own tips, have put them self into an interesting position by insulating the sarcasm with cleverly devised lies. The double benefit here is...she comes off as sincere and receives a more generous gratuity while entertaining the troops and giving impetus to a budding urban legend.
That's what my waitress did. After she confirmed the pronunciation she said, "To the naked eye, it looks like Zzyzx Road don't lead nowhere but..." She then rattled off quite a fantastic yarn. Down through the years, I have spread the word and have also heard many other versions it. That's why I always believed her story to be the McCoy. Nevertheless, 29 years later, I decided to find an objective source. After exhaustive research, I announce to you, the TRUE truth regarding the settlement called Zzyxz.
Numero Uno...it was NOT where NASA had a friendly close-encounter of the third kind with aliens from Planet Xenon. Part Deux...it was NOT a sex, drugs and rock 'n roll infested hippie commune and thirdly, at NO point did it serve as a hideout for Charles Manson and his legion of zombie-like, serial littering followers.ITS A PROVEN FACT THAT LESLIE VAN HOUTON, LYNETTE "SQUEAKY" FROMME AND THE REST OF THE MANSON GIRLS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH CRAPPING-UP THE MOHAVE DESERT WITH GARBAGE.
Actually...prior to 1944, the area was called Soda Springs. It attracted mainly elderly tourists who sought the therapeutic advantages of its natural spa. Back then, access was almost completely limited to rail service. Earlier, it was a watering stop for stagecoach lines and wagon trains.
In the early part of the 20th century, Soda Springs became an important prehistoric quarry, specializing in the recovery of ancient native American items. Later, salt mining became an important local industry as well as associated mills.
After 1944, Curtis Howe Springer took control of the enterprise and renamed it, "Zzyzx Mineral Spring and Health Spa.". He chose the word Zzyzx for the sole purpose of inventing the last entry in the dictionary. Due to tax problems and misuse of the land, he lost control in 1974 and the federal government seized the property. It's been overwhelming uninhabited until 1976. That's when the state university system was permitted to put its Desert Studies Center there.
In the heart of San Bernadino County, the entire four and half mile ride on Zzyzx Road from I-15 is still only partially paved. Despite providing no roadside services, curiosity seekers are still always welcome. It won't exactly be a Kodak moment but the remnants of the old mines and mills are still there. Plus, you can also check-out Lake Tuendae which is known as the home of the nearly extinct Mohave tui chub (fish). And if you're completely lifeless...the area code is (760), the zip code is 92309 and Baker...the Gateway to Death Valley...is seven miles north.