Geronimo Springs Museum – Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

This local museum is packed with artifacts and exhibits that date back to times when dinosaurs walked the earth. Representing thousands of years of the history of Sierra County, the Geronimo Springs Museum has a surprise around every corner.

When walking in the door, one of the first displays is a pair of prehistoric skulls, one of a Mastadon and another from a Woolly Mammoth. As I’ve travelled through New Mexico it has become apparent that if you want to find evidence of dinosaurs, this is the state to do it. This room is full of fossils and gem stones that all came from Sierra County.

There is a wonderful collection of Mimbre pottery which includes ancient tribes of humans including the Mogollon and the Anasazi. These tribes flourished approximately 1000 years ago.

The color of the clay pottery helps determine what era they were made. These are from the Black and White phase. The patterns and imagery show a very sophisticated work of art that is difficult to achieve even today.

The Anasazi are probably the best known of the prehistoric tribes. Flourishing over a thousand years ago, they were proficient in astronomy, agriculture and trade. Like all of these early North American tribes, they abandoned their villages and disappeared into the shadows of the past.

Pictured above is an amazing display of prehistoric arrowheads and points that was displayed by a true artist. Not only is it fun to check out the countless heads and points on display here but the patterns the display creator chose to portray this collection with.

The beginning of European history in the area began with Coronado in the 1500s. The coming of the Conquistador conquerer opened New Mexico to early Spanish settlement, much to the detriment of the Native tribes that already occupied the region. They were enslaved by the Spanish and treated cruely with tortures only those during the Spanish Inquisition could devise. They brought those horrors to the tribes of New Mexico.

There were those that refused to be conquered. In 1680 the Natives had had enough. In what has become known as the Pueblo Revolt, tribes across the region almost suceeded in killing every Spaniard in the region. Even images of the conquistaors that were etched in rock were destroyed in an effort to wipe out all memory of their cruelty. As a note of weird trivia, the artist who painted the last two images, and I can’t remember is name, would sign many of his paintings by firing a bullet through the canvas.

Since the museum is named Geronimo Springs it is probably time we got to the namesake. Apaches such as Geronimo had made this region their home as had Victorio and Cochise. Each one went to war with the U.S. Cavalry and the Apache became one of the fiercest fighting tribes the Cavalry came up against. First off, they knew the countryside and thrived in it. When it came time for the Army to hunt them down, it was an endeavor that spawned legends. There is much to learn about Geronimo and the Apaches here.

Originally the Spanish came and encroached on their land and then their descendants, the New Mexican farmers pushed them. It was soon to be followed by American settlers who would also push them out. The Apaches pushed back, hard.

Eventually, the cattle and sheep ranchers came along claiming thousands of acres for themselves. The army was ordered to round up or destroy the Apache. Keep in mind this was also happening to the Navajo, who were further north, as well. It was time for the Native American to go!

The museum takes artifacts from all periods and paints a vivid picture of the past. The town of Truth or Consequences has its own story as well. From being Apache land to frontier town, it became Hot Springs, New Mexico.

One day this man came along, Ralph Edwards. He was a very popular producer and MC of radio shows. One of his most popular was the game show, Truth or Consequences. It eventully became a very popular TV show as well along with another favorite – This Is Your Life.

Edwards was aproaching the 10th anniversary of his show Truth or Consequences. He announced on the radio that he would do his 10th anniversary show in any town that would change their name to Truth or Consequences. Hot Springs, New Mexico responded which is how T or C got its name.

Edwards didn’t stop there. He made it an annual event, they called a fiesta, that went on for quite some time. The picture above shows the amount of Celebrities that showed up over the years in Truth or Consequences much to the delight of the residents.

The Geronimo Springs Museum covers a lot of historical ground and will take a little time to view it all. It is one of most comprehensive museums I’ve seen in the region and the displays are as good as anywhere. It is well worth some time to stop in here.

For more information and writing by Mikel B. Classen, visit his website at www.mikelclassen.com To buy any of his books go to his website or find them on Amazon.

All writing and photography by Mikel B. Classen. Copyright 2020 by Mikel B. Classen.

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