History of the Desert Studies Center

Curtis Howe Springer founds the Zzyzx health resort

Springer and guestsIn 1944, Curtis Howe Springer, a colorful religious broadcaster, lecturer, and health food entrepreneur, filed mining claims on 12,800 acres of federal land, which included the oases of Soda Springs. There he built a rustic health spa/resort, Zzyzx Mineral Springs, where his guests could soak in the mineral water in a cross-shaped pool or heated mineral baths, partake in specialized diets, attend lectures and religious services, and enjoy the clean air and sunshine of the Mojave Desert.

So why the name “Zzyzx”? Some say it was because Springer always insisted on “having the last word” in discussions on matters of health, religion, and politics, and he thought it clever to invent “the last word” alphabetically, and use it for the resort. Others say he wanted a name sounding like restful sleep. In either case, the name Zzyzx (rhymes with “rye-six”) certainly caught attention on road signs, literature and radio spots, inviting all to “come and rest at Zzyzx Mineral Springs – the last word in health”.

Springer's productsSpringer's mining claims never permitted him to develop a health resort. In the 1960’s, the Bureau Land Management (BLM) began legal proceedings to have Zzyzx closed and Springer evicted for violation of existing mining laws. After various negotiations, attempts to get Congressional intervention, and exhausting all appeals in federal court, Springer was removed with a court order to never return. The facility was closed in 1974.