Would You Take a Trip to TV Town?

Travel Blog  •  Sophia Dembling  •  04.08.09 | 4:19 PM ET

Photo by Sophia Dembling

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. It’s the only town in the world named for a TV show. In 1950, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the show (which started on radio), the producers challenged a town to change its name to Truth or Consequences and the anniversary show would be taped there.

This southern New Mexico town, then called Hot Springs, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the change and from then on, its patron saint celebrity was host Ralph Edwards, who returned to the town many times until his death in 2005.

T or C has voted a couple of times since on whether it should return to its old name, but the TV name has stuck. After all, towns called Hot Springs are a dime a dozen.

I’ll refrain from using the word “quirky,” which Gina Kelley, director of tourism for Sierra County, says is the travel writers’ go-to word for the town. But T or C is a little bit arty, a little bit ranchy, a little bit New Age. “You can’t swing a cat without hitting a massage therapist,” says Kelley—although you could swing a whole bunch of cats and not hit much of anyone on a Tuesday in downtown T or C, when the whole place shuts down.

Still, T or C feels like a town on the cusp of something, if it can only figure out what.

Rob Wheeler, who owns (with Ralph Stuart) downtown’s Blackstone Hotsprings, a pretty little boutique hotel with private hot springs tubs, thinks naming the inn’s rooms for TV shows is the best decision they made—his guests love it. (I’m writing this from the Jetsons Room. The As The World Turns Room is next door, the Golden Girls Room is a few doors down. Should I confess that “The Golden Girls has become a late-night guilty pleasure of mine? No, probably not…)

Wheeler thinks the whole town should embrace its pop culture connection.

“We should have a men’s clothing store called Father Knows Best. A women’s clothing store called That Girl. A downtown convenience store that looks like an old Woolworth’s and that sells souvenirs, logo materials and has a malt shop, and call it Leave It To Beaver.”

Hm ... TV town. It’s a bold plan. And if it meant I could finally find the “That Girl” logo t-shirt I’ve been craving, I’d support it.

What do you think? Would it work?

Sophia Dembling

Dallas-based writer Sophia Dembling is co-author of the Flyover America blog and author of "The Yankee Chick's Survival Guide to Texas." She would love to hear your tales of America, so drop her an email.

4 Comments for Would You Take a Trip to TV Town?

Jenna Schnuer 04.10.09 | 8:39 AM ET

I love the idea. It could totally work. To pull in the youts of the world, they could have a Real World hostel.

Jay Wo 04.13.09 | 9:40 AM ET

My big question is what happens on a tuesday to vacate the town? Are there big goings on at an adjacent town?

Gina Kelley 04.19.09 | 12:48 PM ET

The town isn’t exactly “vacant” on Tuesday. Many of our local businesses are owner operated, and many have designated Tuesday as their well deserved day off.

Sophia Dembling 04.22.09 | 12:47 PM ET

And we did find a few businesses open on Tuesday. If you happen to be there on Tuesday and in the market for a pair of used cowboy boots, Redbone has a great selection at great prices. (And now I have that annoying song, Come and Get Your Love, lodged in my mind again.)

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