Hot Springs Became Truth or Consequences
of Herald Publishing, The Chaparral Guide, January 2000
off Interstate-25, midway between the thriving metropolitan
cities of El Paso and Albuquerque, is one of the most publicized
and unique health resorts in the United States. Originally
named "Hot Springs" and now called "Truth or
Consequences", this city has received more national publicity
via television and radio than any city of its size in the United
States. So naturally, one of the first things people who
come here ask is, "How did the town get its name?"
In 1950, Hot Springs New Mexico, was plodding along slowly and
fairly comfortably, much the same as hundreds of other small
resort cities. Tourist trade, practically speaking, was
the city's only industry. The majority of visitors here
sought the town's health facilities and found the little
community offered more for their money than they found almost
anywhere else under the sun. The cost of living was, and
still is, extremely reasonable, and visitors and residents alike
did, and still do, relax in the healing, naturally hot mineral
baths, bask in the almost ever present sunshine, fill their
lungs with the fresh, pure air that envelops the city and
surrounding areas, fish a little, and play dominoes and
shuffleboard at the Senior Citizens Recreation Center.
Another pastime years ago was sitting in groups on the sidewalk
benches to watch a few travelers as they passed on the highway,
usually without stopping. Recreation then was undeveloped
to its full potential and the town was lost among hundreds of
other " Hot Springs" scattered all over the United
States; the name indicating nothing more significant than the
likelihood that some hot springs were located in the area.
Then in 1950, NBC television and radio producer Ralph Edwards,
on the 10th anniversary of the Truth or Consequences radio program,
called his staff together and said, "I wish that some town
in the United States liked and respected our show so much that
it would like to change its name to 'Truth or Consequences.'"
Upon hearing the proposition, the New Mexico State Tourist Bureau
relayed the news to the manager of the Hot Springs Chamber of
Commerce and the news spread like wildfire.
Here was an opportunity to advertise the city and its resources
free of charge! Better still, no longer was our city to
be confused with that "other one" in Arkansas and
the others throughout the nation (California alone has more
than 30 towns called "Hot Springs").
So, in a special city election, 1,294 of the town's residents
voted for the change to "Truth or Consequences."
On the other hand, 295 area residents opposed the change and
a protest was filed. So the city returned to the polls and again
voted - by a margin greater than four to one to go ahead with
the name change.
Almost 14 years later, in January 1964, the question went to the
people again and they voted to keep the city's unique
name. A fourth election was held on August 18, 1967, and
once more a majority voted to keep the name Truth or
Ralph Edwards and his entire NBC production, acting and show
crew came here in 1950, aired the first live, coast-to-coast
broadcast of Truth or Consequences from the city of Truth or
Consequences. The residents of his adopted home were very pleased
to say he came back every year for 50 years with his Hollywood
friend to celebrate the anniversary of the name change. He helped
spread the news about this oasis of hot springs, two of the
state's best lakes and many other recreational opportunities
throughout Sierra County.