Before and After Photos
We have been coming to Truth or Consequences looking for property since January of 2004 — mainly because I have always wanted to own a hot spring. We ultimately bought “The Blackstone” in November of 2005 — a historic 1930s “motor court” in the downtown bathhouse district of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
The small area of downtown TorC actually “floats” above an ancient geothermal spring with artesian flow into the Rio Grande a couple of blocks away. The hot mineral water is just a few feet below the surface, and it ranges from 102 – 115 degrees(f) throughout downtown. Blackstone Hotsprings is situated above a particularly hot vein of groundwater, with a typical temperature of 112 degrees at the wellhead. If the spring water is too hot, you can always cool it with fresh water provided in each soaking tub.
In the 1930s, farmers would come to Hot Springs New Mexico (the name of the town until 1950) and “take the waters.” They would stay in little efficiency apartments for several weeks during the winter, and they would take hot mineral water baths several times each day. Local legend has it that taking the waters 3 times a day for 21 days in a row will cure “anything that ails you.”
With the advent of “modern” medicine in the 1940s — antibiotics, cures for tuberculosis, vaccinations for polio — the former “Health Seekers” who once came west now stayed home in increasing numbers. And they took pills (also in increasing numbers). The town of Hot Springs began a gradual decline as it lost the 1920s vision of becoming the country’s foremost healing spa town. (Click to see a vintage brochure for the City of Health on the Hot Springs Festival website.)
In 1950, Ralph Edwards celebrated the 10th anniversary of his hit radio and television show called Truth or Consequences. He made an offer for free publicity if any town in the country would re-name itself to honor his game show. Almost every state in the country had a town called “Hot Springs,” and the one in New Mexico was often confused with the one in Arkansas, etc. The town voted to change its name in early 1950. On April Fool’s day of that year, Ralph Edwards celebrated his first annual fiesta with a live broadcast of his show from the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
Even sharing a name with a hit TV show did not return the town to its glory days. Life stayed on its slow and steady pace here. Over the years city leaders had varying goals for the town, including affordable housing and retirement, recreation, manufacturing, mining, etc. People talk about ending up here when their car broke down on the freeway, or they came to a turning point in their life and picked the town from a map because of its name. There aren’t that many people in this small town, but there are a whole lot of stories … several thousand friendly people, and just a few old soreheads.
These days the buzz around town is all about The Spaceport, growth in Las Cruces and Silver City (long weekend tourist market), new galleries, eclectic shops, development plans for hot real estate deals…and soaking in the hot springs. Everyone has a favorite place to soak — some because they are so natural, others are more historic, and a few are relaxing works of art.
The town of TorC is now enjoying a renaissance of re-development and downtown revitalization. The “Downtown Historic Bathhouse District” is actively encouraging historic preservation at both the state and federal level. Downtown real estate is now selling at a premium, where for decades the same properties were abandoned and neglected. The slow decline that persisted through the last half of the 1900s is now reversed with new investment and creatively charged people redeveloping the town.