Several weeks ago, the Sentinel published the obituary of Mr. Cecil L. Overlease who lived in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. I kind of remembered hearing a story about this town years ago, but curiosity prompted me check it out. Perhaps many of you did the same thing.
In searching for information on the town’s name, I got excited about traveling again and decided to drop in and visit the town, flying in on Google Air from Denver to the Municipal Airport, which is located to the north of the town of Truth or Consequences.
Before flying in, here’s what I learned about the town and its unusual name.
Truth or Consequences, which is often abbreviated as “T or C” (can you blame them?), is a city in and the county seat of Sierra County, New Mexico. The decennial census of 2000 showed there were 7,289 residents at that time, living in 3,450 households.
In March 1950, Ralph Edwards, the host of the popular NBC Radio quiz show Truth or Consequences, announced that he would air the program on its 10th anniversary from the first town that renamed itself after the show. Hot Springs, New Mexico jumped at the opportunity and officially changed the town’s name on March 31, 1950, and the program was broadcast from there the following evening. Edwards enjoyed the town so much that he returned to visit during the first weekend of May for the next 50 years. His return prompted an annual festival, known as “Fiesta,” which eventually included a beauty contest, a parade, and a stage show. The city still celebrates Fiesta each year during the first weekend of May, with most of the activities taking place in Ralph Edwards Park.
As we flew over the town and then circled a couple of times, the most obvious thing is that, aside from being in the desert, the town is built along the Rio Grande River. From the air, it was easy to pick out the golf course, which appeared as an oasis of green in an otherwise monochromatic landscape. Not far from the golf course, smaller patches of green were evident as the high school football field and ball diamonds. Although there are trees throughout the town, they are certainly not plentiful except along the Rio Grande. As we dropped altitude, the outline of a large star was easy to see, and we learned that this is Veterans Memorial Park with a Walk of Education, a series of sidewalks in the shape of a large star at the Hamilton Military Museum. This is all adjacent to the New Mexico State Veterans Home.
After setting down at T or C Municipal Airport and renting an SUV to get us around, we drove 12 miles on I-25 to get to Truth or Consequences. We certainly chose the right time of year to visit, as October through March, considered their winter season, has pleasant, mild temperatures. There are three seasons in this area of the country: summer is April to June, monsoon season is July through September, and then winter begins in October.
People come from all over the world to enjoy the benefits of the minerals of the hot springs spas that T or C is famous for. Before World War II, there were about 40 hot springs spas in the town, thus, its original name of Hot Springs.
There are now only 10 resorts still in operation, and we made a point of enjoying some geothermal energy for ourselves during our visit, and what a treat! You know what they say, “When in Rome...” We learned that, with almost 2,700 parts per million of assorted minerals, these thermal springs constitute some of the most heavily mineralized water in the United States. The continually flowing waters also have two important and unique features: first, the water has no unpleasant odors; and second, the single largest ingredient in the water is chloride, a naturally occurring germ killer that sterilizes the skin and ensures the purity of the water.
Our trip wouldn’t have been complete without locating the Ralph Edwards Park, and saw numerous other things named after the Truth or Consequences show host. Mr. Edwards, we learned, died in November 2005 at the age of 92. No doubt he took advantage of the hot spring spas on his annual visits to the town. This was a fun trip, and
This was a fun trip, and we learned a lot. Now I am trying to decide which strangely-named town to visit next. There is certainly no shortage of weird names for towns, and surely there must be some interesting stories to go along with them.
Right now I’m trying to decide between Why, Arizona or Why Not, North Carolina! Stay tuned...