This story comes form Roadtrippers.
If you ever travel down Interstate 15 in San Bernadino County, California you may come across the small town of Zzyzx. What’s the story behind this bizarrely named town in the middle of the Mojave National Preserve?
This weird and wonderful place was founded by Curtis Howe Springer, a crackpot preacher who heralded himself as “last of the old-time medicine men”, but the American Medical Association disagreed. They proclaimed him “King of the Quacks” in 1969. He spent much of his early life convincing people he was a doctor, though he was nothing of the sort.
In addition to his claims of being a doctor, he also claimed to be a boxing teacher in the U.S. Army, the Dean of defunct colleges, and also loved making up non-existent universities. He’d also write his on pamphlets as Curtis Howe Springer, M.D., N.D., D.O., Ph.D.
In 1934 he began his career in radio broadcasting selling “medicines” which were basically just laxatives wrapped up in teabags. But this wasn’t his only form his quackery took, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a lengthy article titled “Curtis Howe Springer: A Quack and His Nostrums” in 1936, which details all of Springer’s get-rich-quick schemes.
During the 1930’s and 40’s Curtis founded several health spa’s which were later seized by the Feds due to tax reasons (he didn’t pay them). Afterwards, in 1944, Curtis hooked up with a new lady who laid claim to 12,800 acres of the Mojave Desert. Curtis named this land Zzyzx and turned it into a health resort built up by homeless men from L.A.’s infamous Skid Row.
Even though he was a known con-man, over 200 radio stations carried his program. Listeners from around the country would send him money for his “cures”, which mainly consisted of celery, carrot, and parsley juices.
In the 1960’s the Feds finally caught up with him and Springer was convicted of selling junk “cures”, though he only served 49 days in jail. The Fed’s also invalidated his claim to the settlement of Zzyzx.
Springer died in 1986 in Las Vegas.
Read the full story here.