Photograph by Pekka Helos, Finland
The arrow points south down a road that soon turns to sand and bends around a basalt outcropping to Zzyzx Springs, an old health resort started by a charismatic quack named Doc Springer in the early decades of the 1900s. A Los Angeles radio personality, Springer used the airwaves to drum up business, which, at the height of his career, was brisk. His resort might still be thriving today if he hadn't built his establishment on land he didn't own. Essentially a poacher, Doc Springer was eventually evicted, and his erstwhile spa is now used by biologists as a research station. (For more info about the Desert Studies Center, click here.)
The old Zzyzx Springs sign near Doc Springer's resort in Mojave National Preserve (5/96)
And so Doc Springer's real legacy is not a miracle cure or a vacation spot, but Zzyzx itself. The name he invented (which, by the way, rhymes with Isaacs) has never ceased arousing curiosity, and it's been appropriated by more than one science fiction writer. I, too, have fallen under its spell, and have used Zzyzx Road as a location in a novel.