Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Rio Grande Valley
Truth or Consequences, population about 7500, is located on Interstate Highway 25 in the Rio Grande valley some 150 miles south of Albuquerque and 75 miles north of Las Cruces. Originally, the location was called Palomas Springs or Las Palomas after the palomas (doves) which frequented the cottonwood trees along the river. In 1914, the name, marked by the local post office, was changed to Hot Springs. (A village a few miles south is still called Las Palomas.)
By the 1940’s, the name of the community was about to change again, a response this time to a publicity stunt by Ralph Edwards, the host of the popular long-running radio show called Truth or Consequences. Edwards had offered nationwide publicity to any city that would change its name to "Truth or Consequences." In a vote in 1950, a majority of the citizens of Hot Springs elected to answer Edwards’ challenge, overriding the protests of some residents. In another vote, in 1964, an even larger majority chose to keep the name.
Truth or Consequences "T or C" to most New Mexicans lies just downtream from Elephant Butte Dam and the lake which makes the region an attraction to snowbirds, tourists and recreation seekers. It is bracketed by the Fra Cristobal and Caballo ranges on the east and the Black Range on the west. As county seat, T or C serves agricultural and ranching interests.
Before EuroAmerican settlers gave names to the location where T or C now stands, Native Americans bathed in the hot springs. Evidence of their presence can be seen near Ralph Edwards Park in rock outcrops which bear deep mortars once used by Indian women for grinding seeds into flour. Apaches were said to have used the springs for the curative powers. T or C’s Geronimo Springs Museum honors T or C’s prehistoric past.
The first Spanish colonist, Juan de Onate, passed through the area in 1598. Spanish-speaking people began to settle there by the middle of the 1800’s. After the Civil War, the U. S. government established forts and maintained troops in the region, trying to make it safe for miners, ranchers and farmers flooding into New Mexico Territory and facing incessant Apache raids. The army forced several bands in the region, including the Warm Springs Apaches, onto reservations.
One of the most colorful characters was Lozen, an Apache woman said to have ridden as a warrior with her brother, Victorio, and later, with Geronimo himself. According to accounts, she fell in love with a Confederate deserter who had been sheltered by the Apaches. When a wagon train came along headed for California’s gold fields, he left, breaking Lozen’s heart. She never married, devoting herself instead to using her unusual powers to sense danger and heal her people.
T or C changed from a quiet health resort in 1916, when the Elephant Butte Dam was completed. About five miles north of T or C, the dam was built to contain flood waters and release it for irrigation along 200 miles of the lower Rio Grande valley. The dam created the largest lake in New Mexico. When the reservoir is filled to capacity, water backs up for 45 miles and creates some 200 miles of shoreline. The reservoir and Elephant Butte State Park are the destinations of boaters, wind surfers and fishermen from all over New Mexico and west Texas. On some holiday weekends, as many as 100,000 people enjoy the lake.
T or C is still known for its hot mineral baths, which are open year around. The relaxing and healing attributes of the baths are combined with a full course of related services, including Swedish massage, energy therapy, reflexology and ayurvedic science. Several lodges offer bed and mineral bath for the cost of a room. Renovations are under way for some of the older facilities. One facility under renovation, with a French touch, will be called the Sierra Grande Lodge, easily be the swankiest in T or C. The owners hope to draw customers from across the country and Europe to enjoy French cuisine and other amenities.
Located in south central New Mexico at an elevation of 4,260 feet above sea level, T or C experiences four mild seasons. The sun shines more than 80 percent of the daylight hours. Average rainfall ranges from 10 to 12 inches a year. Normal humidity is 10 to 15 percent. The highest humidity occurs in July and August due to the thunderstorms of the monsoon season. Snow, when it occurs, generally melts within 24 hours.
AVERAGE MONTHLY TEMPERATURES (Degrees Fahrenheit)
After a soak in a hot tub of mineral water followed by a massage, you can bird watch along the river, enjoying the sights and sounds of year-round and seasonal residents. You can rock hound in the old mining towns of Chloride, Winston and Hermosa. You can play golf, pitch horseshoes or mountain bike. You can camp and fish along the Rio Grande. Bring your own boat or rent a houseboat to explore the lake. Wind surf, hike or backpack in the Gila or Cibola National Forests. You can drive the Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway, a scenic road which loops through the range and desert country west of T or C, winding through pine-covered mountains, ghost towns and military fort ruins.
- Cuchillo Pecan Festival _ Last Saturday in February
- Winston Fiesta _ Third Saturday in April
- Balloon Regatta _ April
- T or C Fiesta & Golf Tournament _ First Weekend in May
- Sierra County Fair _ Last Weekend in August
- Geronimo Days Peace Gathering _ Second Weekend in October
- Old Time Fiddlers State Championship _ Third Weekend in October
- Antique and Classic Car Show _ Veterans Day Weekend
- Christmas Jubilee _ First Weekend in December
- Luminaria Beach Walk _ December
- El Camino Heritage Center
- Geronimo Springs Museum
- Callahan’s Auto Museum
- Elephant Butte Lake
- Caballo Lake
National Forests and State Parks
- Gila National Forest _ Black Range Mountains: 32 miles west
- Elephant Butte State Park: 5 miles east
- Percha Dam State Park: 20 miles south
- Caballo Lake State Park: 20 miles south
- Elephant Butte: 5 miles northeast
- Williamsburg: 2 miles south
- Cuchillo: 17 miles northwest
- Winston/Chloride: 42 miles northwest
- Las Cruces: 75 miles south
- Socorro: 72 miles north
- Engle: 16 miles west
There are hotels and motels in Truth or Consequences, NM with something for every taste and price range. For more information and a complete list. Click Here. (Rates, availability and reservations online)
Camping & RV Parks
There are many camping and RV accommodations in and near T or C. For more information contact:
Truth or Consequences/Sierra County Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Drawer 31
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico 87901
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