Riverbend Hot Springs
Truth or Consequences ~ New Mexico
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History of the Spirit of the Springs

A long time ago, before the rocks were hard, hot clear water bubbled up on the banks of a great river. Mastodons and Paleo-American hunters roamed the landscape. The water was warm like the wombs we all come from and made all who bathed in it feel new again. 2,000 years ago a teacher taught the ancient people of Meso-America how to grow corn, beans, and squash. They practiced this peaceful way for 1500 years.

The Ancient Ones of this area were named for the willow trees (Mimbres) that grew along the rivers. Their pottery is the most highly prized in the world and has inspired all southwestern artists in modern times. Our Geronimo Springs Museum boasts the largest collection on exhibit in the world!

Apache warriors came to the Springs just before the coming of the Spanish in the 1500’s. The two cultures coexisted peacefully. Geronimo spent the most peaceful year of his life in this area as a guest of Chief Victorio of the Warm Springs Apaches. According to legend, the hot springs were a sacred place of healing, and when warriors gathered here they left all weapons behind. In the marsh along the Rio Grande were Seven Sacred Pools, each with a different healing spirit.

A clash of cultures was about to begin with the discovery of gold and silver. Apaches believed that Usen (God’s metal) was in certain rock formations and, when the miners blew these up with dynamite to extract the gold, it was like burning up their Church. Before long, the springs were running with the blood of both sides.

A dam was built and a town was born.

At the end of the Indian wars, cowboys erected a building over one of the springs and named it Geronimo’s Spring. Elephant Butte Dam was completed, the river was diverted and the swamp was drained. The population swelled as nearby mining towns closed. Ojo Caliente de Las Palomas became the village of Hot Springs.

Tumble Inn 1930s
photographer unknown

In the 1930’s Magnolia Ellis came to town and things really began to change. Half Cherokee, with the ability to diagnose at a glance and heal with a touch, Magnolia treated up to 150 people a day. If you were poor you didn’t have to pay--if Republican you paid double. Her building still stands as a monument to the time when a rollicking old west town became
The City of Health.

Truth or Consequences

In 1950 the name changed again. Our museum has an entire wing devoted to that story. Every year since then the annual
Fiesta celebrates the name change. At least now people were smiling about things.

A popular blues song in town goes like this:
“Hot Springs was a great town till Ralph Edwards came around. Want some free publicity? Change your name to ‘T-or-C.’ Truth or Consequences?!? They must’ve lost their senses. Doc Williams said No way! That’s why there’s Williamsburg today.”

Mountain Spirit Dancers came in 1989, along with many others, to create a unique event, the Geronimo Days Peace Gathering. They pitched a tipi in the park and danced for two days and nights to heal the energy around the sacred springs...and the townspeople danced with them. That event continues yearly.
Today, we invite you to put down your baggage, have a soak, explore our rich land, and get in touch with the Spirit of the Springs.

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Check out the Riverbend FLASH site!

Riverbend Hot Springs

100 Austin St.

TorC, NM 87901

(505) 894-6183



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visitors as of 06/09/2001