Elephant Butte Inn and Spa

Elephant Butte Inn Blog

History of Sierra County..Before it was Sierra County, Pt. 4

Posted April 5, 2013

In 1862, the Confederate Texas Contingent marched north from Mesilla, which the Rebels had captured eight months earlier. They were intent on taking Fort Union, north of Santa Fe. In between lay Fort Craig, in the heart of what would be Sierra County. Blue and gray-clad troops faced off in the village of Valverde just north of the fort and fought a bloody battle. The Confederates won the field that day in February but failed to capture the fort. It proved to be a tactical error that eventually ended the Southerners' goal of conquering the entire Southwest to gain control of Colorado gold and Pacific ports.

Beginning in the 1870s, mining became a major industry in the area. The Bridal Chamber mine in Lake Valley, for example, yielded nearly six million ounces of silver. Other mines were rich in silver, gold, copper, and lead. It was this industry, along with ranching, that fueled economic development.

What's Happenin' in Sierra County:

Posted April 4, 2013

It's that time of year when things start happenin' in Sierra County...here's just a few of events for the next week:

4/6/2013 - 4/7/2013

Sailboat Regatta11am-4pm, Elephant Butte Lake State ParkSailboat regatta on the water at the lake! Cost: park entrance fee.Contact: Rio Grande Yacht Club, Richard Alexander, 970-946-9118, rlalex@aol.com.

4/6/2013Senior Olympic Fun Day8am to 12 noon, Louis Armijo Park, Williamsburg

Are you a Senior Olympian? or just want to have fun like one? The FUN begins on Saturday April 6th from 8am to noon at the Louis Armijo Park in Williamsburg. Activities include Washers, Horseshoes, Frisbee Distance, Frisbee Accuracy, Soccer Accuracy Kick, Softball Distance Throw, & Basketball Free Throw. Registration is available on site, pay a $5 fee and play all the games you want! Bring your competitive spirit and try for the local Blue Ribbon! Open to all seniors 50 and up!Contact: Senior Olympic, Gigi Callahan, 5758946641, gg_sjoa@fastwave.biz.

4/6/2013 Dinner and Dancing Fund Raiser 5-8pm, Moose Lodge, 202 W. Smith Street, Truth or Consequences Do you like BBQ and Dancing? This is where you can get your dance on, get a great BBQ Dinner from BBQ on Broadway with all the trimmings all for just $8 a person! Enjoy performances from the T or C Line Dancers, Country Music and Karaoke! Tickets available at the door or in advance from the Senior Center at 360 W 4th or call 894-6641. All proceeds from this event support Sierra County Senior Olympians for the 2013 Local and State Games! Contact: Senior Olympic, Gigi Callahan, 5758946641, gg_sjoa@fastwave.biz.

4/7/2013 Joe West and the Santa Fe Revue 3-5pm, Hillsboro Community Center, Elenora Street, Hillsboro

Joe West is an award winning songwriter and performer based in the international art community of Santa Fe, chosen as "Santa Fe Reporter's Best" in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009 - and as "Top Male Vocalist in the Austin Chronicle Reader's Poll 2000. Joe has toured throughout the United States and Europe, sharing the stage with the likes of Peter Rowan, Arlo Guthrie, and the Violent Femmes. Over the last two years, Joe has produced an all original children's CD, and has written and produced a full length opera. Cost: $5 donation at the door. Contact: Hillsboro Community Center, Laurie McKray, 575-895-5686, lmckray@me.com.

4/7/2013 Three time Minnesota Book Award winner, Barton Sutter booksigning 1pm, Black Cat Books and Coffee, 128 Broadway, Truth or Consequences

Poet, Barton Sutter, will be reading from and signing copies of his books at Black Cat Books on Sunday, April 7 at 1pm. Named the first Poet Laureate of Duluth, Sutter has won numerous awards, including the Minnesota Book Award in three different categories: poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. He has written for public radio, and has collaborated on some musical projects, and many other things. He lives in Duluth, but visits the Southwest every year. Don't miss him! Cost: free. Contact: Black Cat Books & Coffee, Rhonda Brittan, 575-894-7070.


4/7/2013 Weekly mainstream square dance 2 pm - 4:30 pm, Moose Lodge Dining Room, 202 W. Smith Street, Truth or Consequences Weekly mainstream square dance open to the public. Come solo or as a couple. Need not be a member of the Moose to come and dance or just watch the fun. Call ahead to be sure the venue hasn't been temporarily changed. No charge to watch. There is a $3.00 per person charge to dance. We would be pleased to have you visit. Contact: Sierra Twirlers of Truth or Consequences, Carole Wheeler, 575-313-9971, randcintennessee@msn.com.

4/8/2013 Sneak Preview with a Culpepper & Merriweather Clown 9am, R & C Sumthins, 902 North Date Street, Truth or Consequences

Bring the little ones to meet a cute clown up close and enter to win tickets to the main event on Monday, April 15th! Free. Contact: R & C Sumthins, 575-894-1040.

4/12/2013 The Cosmic Talent Expo N Concerto of TorC 2pm-8pm, Lee Belle Johnson Senior Rec Center, 301 S. Foch, Truth or Consequences Art Hop Day!

Support Talent in Sierra County! The Cosmic Talent Expo N Challenges is a day packed of talent. The Expo features exhibit, vendor and community tables from 2pm until 8pm. In addition, we have local artist,Steve Haynes who will be offering Caricature drawings for $5 each and an artist from Las Cruces, who will be selling her pottery. Check out the photo-op area to get a free photo. The stage will be set for Open-Mic from 2pm until 5pm. The Talent Challenge will start at 5pm. Cost: free. Contact: Cosmic Talent World, Cindy Bellelli, 5757402016, cindy@cosmictalent.com. http://www.cosmictalent.com/USA_Launch_Pads.html#Truth_or_Consequences_LPs

4/13/2013 Second Saturday Art Hop - April 6-9pm, Downtown Truth or Consequences

Galleries, studios, shops and restaurants are open late on the 2nd Saturday of every month. Check the MainStreet Truth or Consequences website for info on opening exhibits and special events. Cost: free. Contact: MainStreet Truth or Consequences, promotions@torcmainstreet.org. http://www.torcmainstreet.org/events/art-hop

4/13/2013 Ralph Edwards Tribute Dinner 5:30pm cocktails, 6pm din, Moose Lodge, Smith Street off N. Date, Truth or Consequences

Come celebrate Ralph and the Fiesta 2013 theme, "How The West Was Fun!" Dinner: chili con carne, ranch style beans, baked potato bar, cornbread and cobbler. Live music from On Call. Buy tickets at Happy Belly Deli, The Herald, and R&C Sumthins Ice Cream Shop. Cost: $12 singles, $20 couples. Contact: Fiesta Board, Destiny Mitchell, info@torcfiesta.com. http://www.torcfiesta.com

4/13/2013 Arts and Crafts Fair 9am-4pm, Ken James Senior Center, 360 W 4th Ave, Truth or Consequences

Come and see all of the fantastic hand-crafted items at the Arts and Crafts Fair to benefit the Sierra County Senior Olympics program! Tables and booth space is available for $10.00. Artists, Crafters, resale vendors and Food booths are welcome, please call to ensure your space today! Contact: Senior Olympics, Gigi Callahan Barb Vestal, 575-894-6641, gg_sjoa@fastwave.biz.

4/13/2013 Senior Olympic Field Day 5 pm to 8 pm, Hot Springs High School, Truth or Consequences

Come and enjoy the thrill of victory by supporting and competing in the Senior Olympic Field Events! Qualify for the State Games or just bring some friendly competition to the following events: Discus/Shot Put/Standing Long Jump/Pole Vault/Javelin/High Jump/Long Jump/Track 50M,100M, 200M, 400M. Registration is available on-site, $5 entry fee for all the local events you would like to participate in.... call or come by the Senior Center at 360 W 4th - 894-6641. Open to anyone 50 or up! Contact: Senior Olympic, Gigi Callahan, 575-894-6641, gg_sjoa@fastwave.biz.


History of Sierra County..Before it was Sierra County, Pt. 3

Posted March 28, 2013

In 1819, two years before Mexico won its independence from Spain, the Governor of New Mexico awarded a large tract of land near Valverde to Pedro Armendaris. It was the only Spanish land grant in Sierra County and its history is marred by battles with Apaches, who resented intrusion into their homeland. Even so, the ranch Armendaris established remained in his family until 1895. Since then the ranch has changed hands several times and today is owned by Ted Turner, one of his three New Mexico ranches comprising more than a million acres.

The United States invaded Mexico in 1846, setting off the Mexican-American War. At its conclusion two years later, the southern part of New Mexico, now a U.S. territory, consisted of Dona Ana County, which stretched about 150 miles from just south of Socorro to the Mexican border and from Texas to California. New Mexico and Arizona,at that time, were a single territory.

History of Sierra County..Before it was Sierra County, Pt. 2

Posted March 22, 2013

In 1598, Don Juan de Onate led as many as 500 people into New Mexico, intent on creating a permanent colony. While native people and the Spanish had used the trails along the river for decades, Onate took his wagons through the Jornada del Muerto, establishing El Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro, a road used continuously until the railroad arrived in the 1880s. He chose to use the dry Jornada through Sierra County because the land along the river was full of deep arroyos, scree-covered escarpments, and quicksand.

The Spanish demanded tribute from the Puebloans, virtually enslaving them. The Apaches acquired Spanish horses and raided Spanish settlements. The socio-economic equilibrium of the native peoples was destroyed. By 1680, they so resented the Spanish intruders, the Puebloans revolted and forced them to retreat to Mexico. As they moved south to El Paso, the Spanish were joined by the Piro people. Except for the Apaches, Sierra County was empty of people. But the Spanish returned twelve years later, this time to stay.

Weather in Sierra County

Posted March 5, 2013

Sierra County is located in the high desert of southern New Mexico.  Our consistently sunny weather attracts visitors from across the country and around the world.  We boast sunshine 350 days a year with highs that average 95 degrees in summer to 55 degrees in December, the coolest month.  The low in December reaches an average of 28 degrees, but because of our dry desert climate, it doesn't feel as cold as more humid locations.

Due to  our monsoonal weather pattern, we receive the most rain in July and August, but even then it's extremely rare to experience a full day of rain.  Usually we'll experience a dramatic and refreshing storm, then go back to clear skies.  

Due to  our dry weather, you'll get advice from locals to drink lots of water.  It's a good idea, even when you're enjoying one of our many waterfronts!

We think you'll enjoy our weather any time of the year, but fall is especially beautiful.


The Dam and Power Plant

Posted February 24, 2013

Construction of Elephant Butte Dam, a project of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, began in 1911. For years there had been a need for irrigation and flood control of the Rio Grande for thousands of acres of farmland downstream in New Mexico and Texas.

Construction of the dam was very labor-intensive.  A diversion channel was built to temporarily redirect the Rio Grande while hundreds of workers used chain hoists to lower buckets of cement from an overhead cable. Nearly all the construction materials and workers were brought in by the railroad from El Paso to Engle. A 12 mile spur line was built to the eastern side of the Dam site. The workers were housed at the Dam site in a tent city under the Elephant Butte formation and along the Rio Grande downstream of the construction site.

Construction of Elephant Butte Dam lasted 5 years. Before completion of the dam the lake was already forming behind the dam. The dam's dedication ceremony was held October 16, 1916 and was attended by thousands of people who traveled by horse and buggy from all over the state. At the time it was the largest man-made dam in the country creating the largest reservoir in the world. The dam is 306 feet high, 1,674 feet long and forms a reservoir covering approximately 36,500 acres. By 1941 the reservoir was completely filled and the spillway was tested for the first time. Again, thousands of spectators gathered to witness torrents of water being released into the Rio Grande. The spillway was used again in 1942, resulting in flooding of low areas of Hot Springs. Natural weather cycles caused Elephant Butte Lake to drop very low in the 1950s and the 1970s (and now again for the last three years). In 1985 the lake was again at capacity and the spillway was reopened after being closed 43 years.

The hydroelectric power plant at the base of Elephant Butte Dam went on-line November 14, 1940, lighting the city of Hot Springs.  The power plant was built at a cost of $2.5 million and contains 3 identical generation units producing up to 115,000 volts.

Historical Background of T or C and Elephant Butte, NM.Final

Posted February 19, 2013

On March 31, 1950, the town's citizens voted 1294 to 295 to change its name from Hot Springs to Truth or Consequences.  Ralph Edwards, producer of the popular radio game show of the same name, had issued a challenge for a U.S. town to change its name in celebration of his show's 10th Anniversary.  Many answered his call, but he was inspired by the town's focus on recreation and healing.  Mr. Edwards was well-known for his dedication to the March of Dimes, American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society.  The Carrie Tingley Orthopedic Hospital (now known as the New Mexico State Veterans Home), a center for rehabilitating crippled children, was of particular interest to him.

On April 1, 1950, Ralph Edwards came to T or C to lead the first Fiesta celebration.  He returned each year for 50 years, demonstrating his love and dedication to the town and its citizens.

Historical Background of T or C and Elephant Butte, NM..Pt. 2

Posted February 18, 2013

Construction of the Elephant Butte Dam (1911-1916) brought hundreds of workers to the area.  Upon completion of the dam, many settled by the hot springs floating their small cabins down the Rio Grande from the dam site.  Many of these cabins can still be seen in the Hot Springs Historic District.  The town, known as Hot Springs, thrived and grew into a well-known resort and healing center, drawing thousands of visitors.  The downtown area was filled with motels, bathhouses, clinics, bars and stores.

Historical Background of T or C, NM..Pt. 1

Posted February 12, 2013

Truth or Consequences' long history has unfolded around its hot springs.  For millenia, humans have gathered around the hot mineral water percolating up in the Rio Grande's sandy marshlands where downtown T or C now stands.  The Ancients of pre-history built pit homes and pueblo-like dwellings and farmed the surrounding area.  They gathered around the hot springs for socializing and healing.  Much more recently, the Apache roamed the region using the hot springs for gathering and healing.

In 1598, Juan de Onate and his troops moved northward through New Mexico, followed by Spanish settlers.  They built homes and villages, farming the canyons in the area.  In the 1800s, the Apache was driven out, allowing more white settlers to arrive and develop ranching and mining activities.  In T or C, the first bathhouse was built in 1882 by cowboys from the John Cross Ranch. (pictured below). More bathhouses followed.

Lake Valley, Sierra County, Finale

Posted February 10, 2013

Today, several original buildings remain in Lake Valley.  The Bureau of Land Management oversees the townsite and has set up a 45 minute walking tour.  The tour begins at the 1904 Schoolhouse (pictured below) and includes the restored St. Columbus Episcopal Chapel, some homes and railroad buildings and some mine equipment.

In addition to silver, manganese was mined for both World Wars.  The remains of this mine can be seen from the townsite in a nearby hillside.


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