Originally known as Hot Springs, after the therapeutic mineral springs bubbling up near the river, the town took the name Truth or Consequences -- usually shortened to "T or C" -- in 1950. That was the year that Ralph Edwards, producer of the popular radio and television program Truth or Consequences, began his weekly broadcast with these words: "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." The reward to any city willing to do so was to become the site of the 10th-anniversary broadcast of the program, which would put it on the national map in a big way. The locals voted for the name change, which has survived three protest elections over the years.
Although the TV program was canceled decades ago, Ralph Edwards continued to return for the annual Truth or Consequences Fiesta, the first weekend of May. He died in 2005. Another popular annual festival is Geronimo Days, the second weekend of October. Despite its festive roots, T or C seems to have an identity crisis -- perhaps a consequence of giving up your name for the fame and fortune of television. The city displays a forlorn quality, possibly due to the struggling economy. However, in recent years, a few of the bathhouses have undergone renovation, and a number of galleries and restaurants have opened up, bringing new life to the town.
Next Stop -- Space -- Fasten your seat belt and settle back for an orbit or two of Earth -- that's what space-minded folks, such as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and British tycoon Richard Branson foresee as a reality soon. Space tourists would take off from the proposed $225-million Airport America near Truth or Consequences. In its embryonic stages now, the spaceport will include one or more runways, hangars, a control building, and launch pads. The first test flights took place in 2007, while the completion date for the spaceport is 2010.
When it's complete, Branson plans to headquarter Virgin Galactic here. Currently Virgin is selling tickets for $200,000 apiece for a 2 1/2-hour flight, including 5 minutes of weightlessness. The first of these flights will likely fly out of the Mojave Airport in California, where SpaceShipOne became the first privately manned rocket to reach space in 2004. Virgin Galactic has contracted to build a fleet of rockets called SpaceShipTwo, with hopes of initiating tourist flights in 2009. For updates, log onto www.virgingalactic.com or www.edd.state.nm.us.