Saturday, November 5, 2011

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

This town's first name, before 1950, was Hot Springs. The downtown area sits over a huge pool of 110-degree Fahrenheit mineral water which come to the surface at the Rio Grande River and through wells and pools. The site of the first springs, Geronimo's Springs, was a neutral territory for Southwestern Tribes and cowboys to relax and heal. In more recent years that first historic site  has been changed into an artist-created fountain with mosaics depicting the history and mountains of Sierra County.
Bathhouses grew up around the springs in the early 20th century. We toured one of them Friday, which was the Riverbend Springs. This spring is set in riverside pools with mountain views. It has three private pools and five public pools. Day fees or hourly soaks are available. There are also cottages and rooms for overnight guests. The manager of Riverbend, who gave us our tour, pointed out that at present the Rio Grande is not flowing. Dams in the local area prevent it from flowing from November to March so that the river's waters may be equally shared with Colorado and Texas. One of the pools of the spa is pictured below.
Truth or Consequences has always been known as America's most affordable spa town. However, some of the popularity for its curative springs decreased when the town's name was changed. In 1949 the town entered a contest hosted by the radio show "Truth or Consequences". The show was looking for a town that would change its name to the name of the show. If that town won, Ralph Edwards, the show's host, promised that the 10th anniversary show would broadcast from the chosen city. Hot Springs was chosen, but first the town needed to vote on the name change. In March of 1950 the residents voted on the decision. The final results showed that 1,294 people were in favor of the name change while only 295 were opposed. On April 1of 1950 the first Truth or Consequences Fiesta was staged and the show was broadcast over NBC to the entire United States. The agreement was only for a year, but the fiesta continued to be held yearly. Mr. Edwards returned yearly for the fiesta over the following years, from 1950 to 2000. Next to Geronimo's Springs is the town's museum which has the story of the name change, as well as information and memorabilia on the annual Fiesta. The museum  represents the  history of the town, and Sierra County from prehistoric times to present day.  There is also an extensive display of Native American artifacts.

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