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Truth or Consequences


Truth or Consequences, often abbreviated to T or C, probably is New Mexico's most often asked about and persistently controversial name. An early Spanish name for the locality has been reported to be Alamocitos, "little cottonwoods." As English-speaking settlers moved into the area, the locality came to be called Hot Springs, for the thermal springs here-the early Spanish name was Ojo de Zoquete, "mud spring"--and when a more formal settlement sprang up with the construction of Elephant Butte Dam in 1912-16, it took the name Hot Springs. But then in 1951 Ralph Edwards, host of a popular TV game show, as a promotional gimmick offered to broadcast the show from a town that would adopt the show's name-Truth or Consequences. The New Mexico State Tourist Bureau relayed the news to New Mexico Senator Burton Roach, also head of the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce. Not only would the community garner national publicity, but also it no longer would be confused with the numerous other towns named Hot Springs. In a special election, the matter was put to a vote, and the change was approved 1,294 to 295. A protest was filed and another vote held; again the change won 4 to 1. In 1964 the town's citizens again voted on the name, and again the citizens approved the change. And then in 1967 still another vote was held, with the same outcome. Yet throughout New Mexico, Hot Springs partisans shun and ridicule the new name as a promotional novelty, while Truth or Consequences partisans point to the worldwide recognition it has given their community. And Ralph Edwards kept his word; long after the TV show had been cancelled, he continued to visit and lend his celebrity status to the town that took him up on his offer.

See Also: Place Names of New Mexico
by Bob Julyan.

U.S. Department of the Interior. El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail, Comprehensive Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement. Santa Fe, NM:

Latitude: 3307
Longitude: 10715