Sunday, March 6, 2022

How Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, got its name.

I fully intended to bring you some dramatic photos from my vacation last week. But then I got to my hotel in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and couldn't muster the energy to complete the itinerary I'd planned. So instead, I give you a couple of middling photos. Here's one: 

Lynne Cantwell | 2020

In case my less-than-stellar photography skills have made the sign hard to read: this is the entrance to Ralph Edwards Park. 

Why does the town have such an unusual name? And why did the city fathers name this park after a game show host? Well, thereby hangs a tale.

You see, the town was originally named Hot Springs, thanks to its location along the Rio Grande (yes, that Rio Grande; no, it's not near the Mexican border) where thermal springs first popped up more than 50 million years ago. The water comes out of the ground at about 115 degrees Farenheit and it smells just fine -- no icky sulfur smell. Native Americans were the first to visit the springs, as far as anybody knows; when white folks began working the gold and silver mines nearby in the 1800s, they enjoyed the warm waters, too. As automobiles became a thing, the city began to capitalize on its so-called healing waters to bring in tourists.

Fast-forward to 1949, when the radio game show Truth or Consequences began planning for its tenth anniversary on the air. The powers-that-be hit on the idea of a contest: if a town somewhere in the United States would agree to change its name to Truth or Consequences, they'd send host Ralph Edwards there to do the anniversary show. The city fathers in Hot Springs decided to go for it, and the residents agreed in a special election in March 1950. The day after the election -- April 1, 1950 -- Edwards and his wife came to town to do the show. It got the newly-named T or C loads of publicity -- although some folks thought the whole thing might have been an April Fool's joke. 

Edwards seemed to like it there; he came back every year until the late 1990s for the city's annual Fiesta, often bringing Hollywood stars with him. The grateful town named that park after him.

Ralph Edwards is gone now; he died in 2005. But the hot springs are still there, along with hotels,  restaurants, and shops. I stayed for a couple of nights, and yes, I availed myself of the healing waters. 

Lynne Cantwell | 2022
I don't know if my soaks healed anything, but I had a relaxing visit and I intend to go back.


These moments of restful blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

No comments: