Zzyzx Road
 

Zzyzx Road

Driving on the I-15 to or frm Las Vegas, you can't avoid noticing the sign for "Zzyzx Rd", unless you are so focused on getting to Vegas (or getting out of there before the debt collectors catch up with you) that you don't read any signs whatsoever. Zzyzx Road leads to the similarly named Zzyzx Springs.

But what is it? Did some space aliens miss Area 51 and set up shop here? More seriously, how is it pronounced?

Turns out that it is pronounced "ZEYE-zix", and is a Desert Studies Center nowadays. Before 1976, however, it was:

(...) some sort of retreat run by a fundamentalist preacher who had simply appropriated government land and some buildings, added others, and used the site as a place for his followers from Los Angeles to come and meditate, eat healthful food, and abstain from the fruit of the vine and the distillations of barley, corn, agave, and sundry other raw materials which, when chemically processed, became mind-altering substances. The most interesting artifact that graced this staid caravanserai was a mechanical exercise-horse that had once adorned the Calvin Coolidge White House.

As described by Harry Partridge in the Word Ways magazine. That magazine is also the home of a very interesting article about Zzyzx[a].

2006-01-23, updated 2007-03-12