Truth or Consequences New Mexico -- known world wide as T or C -- my home town.
Wednesday, November 1st we left San Antonio and moved our base of operations to Elephant Butte, two or three miles from the center of T or C. The last time we were here, we stayed in T or C but thought we would try another RV park this time. We chose the Lake Side RV park, based on its Trailer Life rating. It's a nice park, good facilities and friendly management. Like many RV parks in the south west, most of the RV'rs in this park return each year and stay for the winter, melding into one big family with weekly pot lucks, evening cocktail hours, card games and other activities. When Johnna made reservations, there were only four or five spots open during the week we wanted to stay. Our spot was a back in, so once again, I provided an afternoons entertainment for the RV'rs as I strived valiantly to put the trailer into our spot.
The day after we parked, a man came in on his two week leave from the oil fields in Prudhoe Bay Alaska. He is single, divorced, and takes his holiday leave early so that married men can have Christmas at home. This was his first time in this part of the south west. He intended to store his fifth wheel and truck locally and return in January. He is a kayaker and spent most of his days looking for a good spot to put his kayak in the water. He, of course, backed his fifth wheel smartly into his spot on the first try. Must have been the bald head, I'll have to check into that angel.
This photo was taken from a state park walk way adjacent to the lake; you can see the head of an elephant facing left. The high water mark hasn't been reached for many years. When I was a tyke, five years old, the water level was high enough to have boat races. Boats would circle the butte, come roaring in front of spectators sitting in the park, continue to the right up a narrow inlet, make a turn and race back behind the butte again. When the lake is full, the floating boat docks are only a few feet lower than the park level.
I copied this photo from: http://thedamsite.com/
Looking up from the floating docks. I can remember when the lake was full enough that I could dip my toe into the water from the rocky shore in front of the cabins.
These cabins, are a small part of the park facilities constructed in 1940 by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The main picnic facilities and an RV park are further to the left of the cabins. Camping fees are charged now; everything used to be free.
This is Elephant Butte Dam, constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation beginning in 1911 and completed in 1916. In 1916 it was the largest structure built in the United States to impound water and was the largest manmade reservoir at the time.The dam is 306 feet high and 1,674 feet long, and retains a reservoir that covers approximately 36,000 acres. Three generating units have a capacity of 27,945 (KW).
The roadway across the dam has been closed to traffic since 9/11; during WII there were 50 caliber machine gun emplacements on either end, and I think in the middle as well.
The mighty Rio Grande about three miles down river from the Dam. I never saw the river this low while I lived there. People live across the river from town and when the river is this low, there are several places where residents on the east side have established fords to keep from driving three miles up the river to cross the bridge -- the bridge is 50 yards or so back up the river from where the above photo was taken. The river used to be stocked with trout and bass during the spring. My grandparents would come into this area of the river to fish after the restocking.
We travel through many small towns in the US that haven't changed much in our lifetime. T or C is no exception. I left in 1956 and the town core hasn't changed. The main post office is essentially the same, a fresh coat of paint maybe. Store fronts along the two main streets are unchanged, some haven't been refurbished in all these years. The economy is depressed and many stores are empty. Rumor has it, I didn't check it out, that one man owns all the buildings on N. Broadway St. and leases them out to new business ventures fitting his vision of the future T or C. Boutiques, restaurants, and gift shops make up most of the new business undertakings. There's a feeling that perhaps T or C can become a major tourist attraction between Albuquerque and Las Cruces.
In 2006, British entrepreneur, Richard Branson decided that New Mexico was just the place for his private space sport and the world headquarters of his Virgin Galactic spaceline. The space port is to be built near Upham, New Mexico.
The proposed spaceport site is approximately 27 square miles of open, generally level, range land that can be found 45 miles north of Las Cruces and 30 miles east of Truth or Consequences. This site was picked for its low population density, uncongested airspace, and high elevation. I've never been there, it's between Caballo Lake and the White Sands Missile Range right out in the middle of nowhere; I'm guessing that most of the roads in that part of no where, are probably paved with dirt. After the announcement by Branson, the rumor mill started to churn and many people were sure that T or C would be a major beneficiary of the space port. That's not too likely because Las Cruces is more accessible and is a university town. The original completion date was 2009-2010; I don't think any dirt has moved yet, and it may never happen, but it's fun to imagine a space port in the middle of New Mexico. Who'd ever think it. Right after WII town's people would occasionally see strange trailers loaded with canvas shrouded objects come through town heading south. The main highway passed in front of the grade school and I remember seeing trailers with the mysterious cargo myself. I've decided these were captured German V-2 rockets on there way to Alamogordo and White Sands Proving Ground. Wernher Von Braun and his specialists were working out of Fort Bliss, Texas refurbishing the V-2s and launching them in White Sands Proving Ground, as it was known then. I'm not sure where the launch site was, but the center of White Sands is only 50 miles east of T or C. When the V-2s were being launched, I'm sure there combustion trail could be seen from town.
I call T or C my home town, but it was originally Hot Springs. In 1950 Ralph Edwards, host of the game show Truth or Consequences said he would broadcast the program form the first town that would rename itself after the show. It took two special city elections to rename Hot Springs to Truth or Consequences, but the second vote approved the change by a margin greater than four to one. The name change was challenged in 1964 and again in 1967 but voters seem to like the unique name.
Theses are some of the items on display in the Ralph Edwards Room located in the Geronimo Springs Museum. This dress style was very popular when I was in high school. As I remember, the outer dress was called a squaw dress and one or more petticoats, called crinolines were worn underneath. Johnna says she wore the same style in Kansas City in here senior year.
A very small sample of Mogollon pots on display in the museum.
The museum has a very large collection of arrow and spear heads, flint knives and bead work.
For a relatively small museum, there are a number of interesting artifacts in the collection. It is well worth the cover charge, to spend an afternoon or morning nosing around.
This is a scaled down replica of the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington DC. It is the original Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and was purchased by Truth or Consequences from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund in 2003. The white buildings in the background are the New Mexico State Veterans' Home. The complex was formally the Carrie Tingley Hospital for Crippled Children, treating victims of polio and other disabling diseases. My high school english teachers husband, was director of Carrie Tingley at the time.
Turtle Back mountain, across the river about five or six miles. In my last year of high school I climbed to the top several times on the weekends for something to do. The rock formation is unmistakable, looks like a turtle to me. From the top, looking north you could have witnessed the first atomic bomb test at the north end of the White Sands testing range. I always thought it was called Jackass Flats but I've not been able to verify this, that could be its local name. At the time of the Trinity test, the area was know as the Alamogordo Bombing Range, which in turn is part of the Jornada del Muerto ("Journey of the Dead Man" in Spanish) desert basin. This April we plan to visit the Trinity bomb site; I'll see if there really is, or was, a Jack Ass Flats.
Monday November 6, we had chili on our minds and decided to go south forty miles or so to Hatch New Mexico, home of" The World's Best Chile Pepper."
Our first stop was this chili stand.
Good eating chilies but used a lot for decoration; these are half finger size.
One of my favorite subjects, kids, flowers and dogs.
Another view of the chili stand.
On the way back we passed some cotton fields, a big cash crop in and around Hatch.
King cotton engineered for mechanical harvesting.
This looks completely inefficient to me; the cotton left behind, seems to be more than the picker collects. But, we go through cotton country all over the the south west and its the same every where; machine planting, machine harvesting, not much of a human work force. The cotton is stripped from the plant and compressed into a large bail for transport to the gin.
Cotton bailer. The plants in the foreground have been picked, I think, but it looks like a lot of cotton was left behind. The next time we're in cotton country I'm going to investigate this process a bit more.
A small chili patch that needs picking. We were at the end of the season but there was still plenty of chili to be processed.
Tractor pulling a wagon full of chili. This lot will go to a central location where it will be shipped off to a processing plant some where else.
And finally, the old homestead. The house is adobe with a corrugated roof and at least 80 years old. It has changed hands several times since my grandmothers death and is in pretty deplorable shape. I didn't bother to go inside, next time maybe.
Eight children were raised in this house and until sometime in the 1970 's there was no indoor plumbing other than a cold water faucet in the kitchen area; you heated water on the stove to wash dishes or take the Saturday night bath. I'm not sure when the cold water tap was installed, but my mother says, as a teenager, her and her sisters carried water in buckets from the river, 200 yards away, for washing clothes and bathing. I lived with my grandmother until I was 18 and we still had an outhouse and walked downtown to bathe at one of the mineral bath houses.
Well it's fun to go back home after a number of years. Each time we go back I regain a few more memories and spend time going to places I didn't bother with while I lived there.