Zzyzx is a name that was made up in 1944 by a man named Curtis Howe Springer, who claimed that it was the last word in the English language. Up until Springer took "possession" of the settlement, it was known as Camp Soda, or Soda Springs. It was originally federal land, but Springer created the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa there after filing mining claims for 12,000 acres surrounding the springs.
|Source: Christopher Mann McKay on Wikipedia|
The land was later reclaimed by the government after the U.S. Marshals arrested Springer in 1974 for food and drug law violations, and he was evicted from the settlement for the misuse of federal land. He did not own the land or have the correct permits to be able to use the land under California's zoning laws. The government did not change the name back, however. It officially became Zzyzx, California in 1984, and is part of San Bernadino County.
Instead of the spa, the settlement is now the home of the Desert Studies Center, which is a field station of California State University (CSU). Also located at the site is Lake Tuendae, which was an artificial pond used as part of the spa. Mudhens and the Mohave tui chub were introduced there, possibly after the Mojave River flooded into the pond, which now serves as a refuge habitat for the endangered chub.
There are miles and miles of hot desert preceding the settlement when driving north on the I-15, but the closest town after passing the sign is Baker, California, which is about 7 miles farther north. The closest large city to the site is Las Vegas, which is a good 100 miles after that. It's truly in the middle of nowhere!