Nothing There


Pictured above is Nothing. Yes, there’s some sand or dirt. And a tree or two and some various shrubs. And yes, there’s a sign there, which technically is “something,” but if you look closely the sign says “Nothing.” (Here’s a larger version of the picture.) Nothing isn’t nowhere. It’s somewhere. It’s actually just 22 miles (36 km) southwest of Bagdad.

Here’s a map.

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The first thing you’ll notice is that Nothing is in Arizona. (You’ll also probably notice that the Bagdad it’s close to is spelled differently than the one in Iraq.) It’s a ghost town — appropriately, no one lives in Nothing. It was founded in 1977 and while its history is unclear, local legend (per Wikipedia) claims that it was named by “a bunch of drunks” which seems about accurate given the jokey name and the similarly jokey welcome sign (below, larger version here) that used to greet visitors.


The next thing you’ll note about Nothing is that there is, actually, something in Nothing. Or, there used to be something — there was once a gas station which, on its sign, advertised “Nothing Towing.” (That was probably not a reference to the price they’d charge for the service.) Here’s a photo from around 2008, via a site called Deuce of Clubs, and as you can see, nothing last forever.


The failure of Nothing shouldn’t be all that surprising, as the town’s name accurately describes what is there insofar as infrastructure is concerned. Nothing isn’t connected the region’s power grid. There is no sewer system nor any sort of municipal water, either. (And given that Nothing is surrounded by federally-owned desert, that last part is a big problem.) But despite these difficulties, Nothing isn’t quite in the middle of nowhere. It’s off of U.S. Route 93, which connects Las Vegas, Nevada to Phoenix, Arizona; if you’re making that relatively-reasonable four and a half hour drive, you’re going to pass by Nothing. Combined with the natural tourist attraction that the town’s name provides, it seems like there’s alway someone who is trying to make something out of Nothing.

But in general, nothing’s doing. The most recent attempt came in 2009, when an entrepreneur restaurateur named Mike Jensen bought the town — all six acres of it — and tried to establish a wind and propane-powered pizza joint. (The pizza place should have used the slogan “you’ve tried pizza with nothing on it, now try Nothing with pizza on it!” but alas, I wasn’t consulted.) Unfortunately, Jensen’s plans failed; he estimated that he had to make about $500 a day in Nothing in order to keep the business afloat, but he made closer to nothing.

Today, Nothing is a barren wasteland of dilapidated buildings and, well, nothing else.

Bonus Fact: The Arizona town of Bagdad isn’t a ghost town — about 1,500 people live there — but it isn’t a typical town, either. It’s what’s called a “company town” — a town “where practically all stores and housing are owned by the one company that is the only employer,” as described by Wikipedia. The main employer in the area is Freeport-McMoRan, a publicly-traded mining operation which operates a copper mine in the town and employs most of the income-earners in town. All of the residential and commercial buildings in Bagdad are owned by Freeport-McMoRan.

From the Archives: Air Plane: When Hot Wheels sold nothing at all for $5, and found buyers who really wanted a collector’s copy of Wonder Woman’s invisible jet.

Take the Quiz: Can you name the phrases and things that contain the word “zero”? It’s a quiz about nothing!

Related: Nothing. $7, give or take.