In my last post, I chronicled our experiences in El Paso and Las Cruces, two places that under-impressed us (except for Mesilla). Our next stop before entering Arizona is Silver City, but something unexpected diverted our travel plans.
I have to admit, one of the most exciting and liberating aspects of being untethered to a calendar is the ability to totally rearrange our travel plans at a moments notice. Realizing that we may only pass through this (or any) area once, we are always on the lookout for interesting/unique things to do or visit. And when I saw that we were going to be within travel-distance to a town with a very, very unique name, out came the pencil eraser and our route was redrawn.
I mean, who wouldn't want to visit a town named after a popular 1950's TV show?
And that's what brought us to Truth Or Consequences.
After leaving Las Cruces, we headed about an hour and half north to our next campground at Cedar Cove RV Park, just outside of Elephant Butte Reservoir. It will be our home for the next four days. We traveled up Interstate 25, commonly known as the CanAm Highway, which is the international route stretching 1,500 miles connecting Canada to Mexico.
It was a pleasant drive with only one unexpected delay, a police shooting had occurred just outside Truth Or Consequences, so we had to detour around the crime scene.
Our RV park was very, very nice and offered some fabulous sunset views.
We also appreciated the friendliness of the staff and the other campers. We felt like family as soon as we pulled.
These were our neighbors. Sadly, given that this was four years ago we no longer remember their names, but the way they welcomed us you would have thought we were long-lost friends. But this is not unusual given most RVers share an attitude of "we're all in this together"; always willing to share tools, meals or travel stories. It's an 'esprit de corps' that reaffirms my belief that all-in-all people are wonderful.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Well, let's find out.
Back in the late 1800's there was a gold boom in the surrounding area, while this area lacked any precious metals, the swampy region was home to a large natural aquifer that produces somewhat salty, odorless water ranging in temperature from 100-115 degrees Fahrenheit. Miners began to come here to soak their tired, weary bones. When the state built the Elephant Butte Dam just north of here, the swamp land dried up enabling streets to be laid out and a town to spring up. And in 1916, Hot Springs, New Mexico was incorporated. During it's heyday, the town had 40 different privately-owned natural-hot-spring spas and a population of 4,700 people. But as the mines began to close, the town's population dwindled.
But its re-birth happened on April 1, 1950, after the hugely popular radio quiz show, Truth or Consequences, had a promotion that the program would broadcast it's 10-year anniversary show from the the first town that was willing to change its name to that of the show. It was a crazy idea that no one thought would actually work but when its host, Ralph Edwards, made the announcement, Hot Springs jumped at the chance to rebrand itself. And on March 31, 1950, the citizens, in a vote of 1294 to 295, voted in favor of the "temporary" name change.
The next day, America became aware of the sleepy town of Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. The temporary name stuck. Ralph Edwards and his wife would go onto visit the town on the first weekend of May for the next 50 years. His annual “homecoming” evolved into a town-wide fiesta that is still celebrate today with a parade, pageant, and other small-town events.
And for what it's worth, if they hadn't changed their name sixty-three years ago, we wouldn't be here today.
We found this to be a quirky but really cool slice of Americana. The town itself looks like many of the other sleepy, economically depressed towns (population 6,000) we've seen out this way. A place that time has forgotten. With as many businesses open as closed down. It reminds me of an idling car, not knowing whether its about to move forward or reverse. Would we ever go back? Probably not. Are we glad we visited? Oh yeah. While the town is completely forgettable (no offense to TOC and its citizens), its history has become an unforgettable piece of our travel story.
We even decided to take the time to soak in one of their 10 hot-spring resorts.
Not a bad way to end the day!
ELEPHANT BUTTE DAM:
If you're out this way, make the short trip out to the dam. It's an impressive structure to look at considering it was built in 1916.
Of course, my mind quickly does the math and realizes that this concrete barrier has stood here for 107 years. Hmmm.. What's the shelf life of concrete anyway? I'm glad I don't live downstream of here.
Some of the original buildings used during the dam's construction, still stand and you can poke around a few of them if you're feeling adventurous. This is the old hospital.
There is a poignant marker commemorating the death of 5 Boy Scouts that lost their lives here in 1943. The five boys found a submerged boat and decided to bail it out and row out to Rattlesnake Island. A storm blew in and swamped the boat. All five teenagers drowned.
There is also a statue commemorating the workers of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) who, back in the 1930-40's, helped build cabins, improve the roads, and construct a fish hatchery among other things. Their contribution greatly enhanced the surrounding areas.
Pictured below are a few of the cabins the workers built. These quaint pieces of history can be rented by tourists and come in one, two or three bedroom configurations.
ONTO SILVER CITY:
It was a two and a half hour trip to our next campground in Silver City. We were staying at the Silver City RV Park. This is the 74th RV park at which we've stayed since beginning our journey.
This park was small with narrow, dirt pads. Fortunately, nobody was parked in the spot behind us so we were able to pull through that site to get our 35' fifth-wheel into our spot. If not for that stroke of luck, it would have been very difficult to pull into our narrow site. Their 30 amp service was very weak. At the time, this park was in serious need of a facelift. It's in the heart of the city but we probably would not stay here again.
Silver City Main Street:
Our visit to Silver City will always hold a unique place in our hearts, not the city itself but the people we met while here. But more on that in my next post.
See you on down the road!