We took an early morning hike in Water Canyon. We found some old foundations from previous homesteads. We had a quick breakfast from the tailgate. We stopped in Socorro at the public library to update our website with their high speed internet access. We continued south toward Big Bend National Park.
When we came to a town named Truth or Consequences we wondered how it got such an unusual name, so we stopped with the intension to ask at visitor services. Visitor Information is in the Geronimo Springs Museum. They’re about to close so we look around for just a few minutes. The town got it’s unusual name from the radio/TV show from the 1040’s and 50’s of the same name. Ralph Edwards, the show’s host, made the announcement in 1949 it was seeking a city to change it’s name to Truth or Consequences to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary. This was meant to be a stunt to for the very popular, family oriented, humorous show. Edwards’ promised the anniversary show would be broadcast from the chosen city with national coverage of the name change, thus giving the city nationwide publicity. They received letters from several US cities, one being Hot Springs, New Mexico. After interviewing townspeople and officials, Hot Springs, NM was selected, but the final decision was left up to the residents for a vote. On April 1st, 1950, the city held a Fiesta with the radio show broadcast held at the newly named city being broadcast to a nationwide audience. The initial agreement was for only for one year, Mr. Edwards made the trip each year for the Fiesta for the next fifty years, 1950 thru 2000. The town voted two more times on the name, and each time voted to keep it.
The Geronimo Springs Museum we visited had lots of memorabilia about the radio and TV show that named the city, but they also had a very impressive collection of Native American pottery and other bone artifacts; originals, not reproductions. They have hundreds of full sized pots in very good condition, from differing periods. The area has several natural hot springs that the Natives used for many years before the Spanish came to the area. The museum had lots of items from the very diverse history of the area: Pre-historic Native Americans (Anastazi) Historic Native Americans (Geronimo, etc.), Spanish Conquistadors, miners and early white settlers.
We didn’t get to see much the first day, so we decided to camp in the area and come back tomorrow. We drove around trying to find a place to legally camp. We stopped at Elephant Butte State Park, a dammed lake-reservoir that wanted to charge us $8. for no facilities. We drove back into town to check into some hot springs. We passed a police station and thought… Why don’t we ask a cop where we can legally camp? As we pulled up in front of the station, an officer was also pulling up. We asked and officer Callaway was quite helpful in pointing us to a dirt road on the other side of the river, a place he used to party as a kid.