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On Walkabout In: Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

I woke up really early to start the day I planned to spend in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  The town is commonly known as TorC in the area and I had passed through this town many times since it is on I-25 between El Paso, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico:

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I have stopped in town a few times before for lunch and to fill up my gas tank, but on this trip I came to exclusively check out this town I had only superficially seen before.   I was staying at the Riverbend Hot Springs Resort and decided to go for an early morning jog to start the day.  From the resort I jogged up a hill towards the city’s veterans park.  As I jogged up the hill I had a beautiful view of the sun rising behind Turtleback Mountain:

Soon I was at the top of the hill and jogging into the town’s Veterans Memorial Park:

The main area of the veterans park was this flag pole that had a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall behind it:

There was also a 9/11 memorial constructed in the park as well:

There was a walking path around the park that had various plaques that provided a quick synopsis of the various wars the US fought in that was capped with this large eagle:

The park also had a visitor center with a small museum but since I was visiting the park at such an early hour it was of course closed:

As I left the park and jogged back down the hill, I had a really nice view of the city as the sun continued to rise over the horizon:

The city has a population of just over 7,000 people and was originally named Hot Springs, New Mexico due to various hot springs that have long drawn visitors to the area to include the area’s original Native-American inhabitants.  The town changed its name to Truth or Consequences when the popular NBC quiz show announced that it would air the program from the first town that changed its name to Truth or Consequences.  Well the people of Hot Springs decided to take NBC up on its offer and changed the town’s name.

Anyway I got back to the resort and ate breakfast and soaked with my family in the hot springs pools for a while:

After feeling refreshed and relaxed from soaking in the pools I then took a walk to the nearby downtown area of TorC.  I walked along the Rio Grande River for a short distance before heading over to downtown:

Downtown is a collection of old buildings that house a few restaurants and gift shops:

Here is the local Post Office that is located downtown:

Right across the street from the post office however is the visitor center and the Geronimo Springs Museum:

It is well worth visiting both locations because the ladies that worked there were very friendly and helpful in providing information about their town.  I ended up spending about an hour checking out the Geronimo Springs museum that chronicled the history of the town starting from its prehistoric days when mastodons once roamed the area:

As previously mentioned the first people to live in this area were the Native-Americans who were drawn to this area due to the easily available water from the Rio Grande in this parched desert landscape and the areas various hot springs.  The various Native-Americans that lived in this area left various artifacts over the centuries that has been collected in this museum such as pottery, arrowheads, tools, and jewelery:

The most famous Native-American chief to visit TorC was Geronimo.  The museum had a life size replica of Geronimo that really showed how short he was.  He couldn’t have been more than 5 feet tall:

The Warm Springs Apache that considered the TorC region their home land were once headed by a popular chief named Victorio.  Victorio had wanted peace with the United States and have his people remain in their ancestral lands.  However, when US government authorities tried to move the Warm Springs Apache to the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona Victorio and his men starting in 1877 went on the warpath for three years.  After being relentlessly pursued by the US Cavalry, Victorio took his people into Mexico where he hoped to hide out in the vast state of Chihuahua.  However, the Mexican Army ended up finding Victorio and his followers.  The Mexican Army won a decisive victory against the Apache that caused the death of Victorio and most of his warriors.  The surviving women and children were shipped back into reservations or orphanages.  One of the most famous women from this band of Apaches was Victorio’s sister Lozen.  Lozen was the rare Apache woman who fought with the male warriors because it was believed she has special powers to locate the enemy soldiers.  She was not with her brother the day of the pivotal battle in Mexico that saw him killed.  Since her brother was dead Lozen would then join another band of Apaches led by Geronimo.  She would fight with Geronimo until 1885 when he surrendered to the US government.  The remaining Apaches to include Lozen were all shipped to a reservation in Florida.

There is only one picture believed to be of Lozen of when her and other Apaches were being shipped to the reservation in Florida:

Here is a computer enhanced picture of what Lozen would have looked like:

She would later die due to sickness at another reservation the Apache were shipped to in Alabama.  The whole tragic tale of Victorio and the Warm Springs Apache really appears to be one that didn’t have to happen, but the differences in attitudes and cultures of the settlers and the Native-Americans at the time were to great to reach a compromise.

Besides the historical information about the city’s Native-American past there was also a number of historic photographs of the town that showed just how much this town has grown over the decades:

The museum had a recreation of what it would have been liked to have lived in a cabin in the nearby mountains during the town’s early days:

After finishing my tour around the museum I then headed out to see the nearby Elephant Butte dam:

The dam was constructed between 1912-1916 and is easily the largest body of water in southern New Mexico that provides both a steady water supply and recreational area for people in the region:

Here is a picture of the Rio Grande River as it flows from the dam towards TorC:

I drove up the highway a little bit further to another look out above the dam:

Here is are a few pictures of Elephant Butte lake as viewed from near the top of the dam:

Here is the view looking back down the river towards TorC:

From the dam Highway 51 is the road that twists and turns through this narrow canyon to reach the other side of the mountain range that borders to the east of the city:

Here is a view of the mountain range to include Turtleback Mountain from the eastern side of the mountain range:

On this side of the mountains is an area known as Jornada Del Muerto:

This section of the Camino Real trail the Spanish used to travel from Mexico to Santa Fe was dubbed the Jornada Del Muerto which means the “Journey of the Dead”.  This stretch of parched desert earned its name because of the nearly 100 miles of desert the trail crossed which had no water and cost the lives of many early settlers.  This may seem strange considering the Rio Grande is nearby but the early settlers traveled by wagon and could not cross the mountains to the west to access the river’s water along this stretch of the Camino Real.

Located in the middle of the Jornada Del Muerto is the ghost town of Engle which now consists of nothing more then a farm house and this small church:

Far to the east of this desert the San Andreas Mountains can be seen:

On the other side of these mountains is where the Tularosa Basin and its famous White Sands is located.  Looking towards the northwest the mountains of the Apache Kid Wilderness can be seen:

Highway 51 ends at County Road A013 that leads even further into the heart of this vast desert where surprisingly one of the most modern structures as well as business venture in the whole world can be found, Spaceport America:

The billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic company in partnership with the state of New Mexico is constructing Spaceport America to become the world’s hub for space tourism flights.  It is about an hour drive outside of TorC to reach the spaceport which is an odd site to see out in the middle of no where:

The spaceport’s construction is nearly complete so hopefully it will soon be open to visitors to tour.  When I went there was a checkpoint where only construction workers and other people on official business could enter through.  In the next couple of years Virgin Galactic is supposed to begin their space tourism flights from Spaceport America:

The going price for a ticket to space on Virgin Galactic’s space-plane is currently $250,000.  It will be interesting to see if this business venture pans out but it is amazing that so much money and high technology has been brought together in the middle of no where outside of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  I wonder if the marketing people are going to let their potential customers know that their voyage to space begins at a place called, the “Journey of the Dead”?  Anyway after taking a few pictures of the spaceport I then headed back to TorC.  In one day I learned everything from the area’s prehistoric past, Old West history, and its possible hi-tech future at the spaceport.  It was an interesting day, but for me I was headed back to what I really came to TorC for the hot springs.


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