You think you know a town – you can rattle off which local restaurant has the best enchiladas, your secret shortcut when driving, and which places let you mooch wi-fi without making you purchase endless cups of coffee. Then you discover that your beloved town is hiding a secret identity. In fact, it has an alter ego! Here are 9 towns in New Mexico that used to be known by other names.
1. Wagon Mound
Perhaps you're already aware that Wagon Mound is named after a butte that's shaped like a wagon, which served as a landmark on the Santa Fe Trail. What you may not know is that this town was originally called Santa Clara. Subsequently, the name was changed to Pinkerton, when employees of that detective agency were assigned to protect railroad equipment in town. Third time's the charm and the name Wagon Mound finally stuck.
2. Eagle Nest
When Eagle Nest was called Therma, it was a wild place to live. Therma was a haven for gambling, if not for gamblers - allegedly the house constantly cheated. Then, in 1935, gambling was banned and the town gained a new name: Eagle Nest.
3. Truth or Consequences
This name change story is by far the most famous in New Mexico. The town of Hot Springs was named after its signature attraction, but there were many places in the country with the same name. In 1950, Ralph Edwards (from the radio show "Truth or Consequences") offered to host a live broadcast from any town prepared to change its name to that of the show.
Some folks in Hot Springs saw an unbeatable promotional opportunity, while others disapproved of the idea. However, Team Name Change was victorious and Hot Springs became Truth or Consequences. Ralph Edwards indeed hosted the show in T or C and his influence is still apparent throughout town.
Have you ever struggled to spell Albuquerque or just been irritated by the length of the city's name? Well, it used to be even harder to spell and smidge longer to write. Albuquerque once had an extra "r," making its spelling Alburquerque.
In the early 18th century, the provisional governor of New Mexico founded a villa - a specific type of Spanish town - where Albuquerque now stands. He was supposed to ask for the Duke of Alburquerque's permission first. Instead, he went ahead and broke the law, but named the villa after the duke, presumably in hopes of pacifying him! The extra "r" was abandoned over time.
To the Navajo, Farmington was called To-Tah, referring to the fact that the San Juan and Animas Rivers unite here. When Anglo settlers arrived they also decided to assign a name that reflected this geographical feature, settling on Junction City. Junction City was eclipsed by a larger settlement on the opposite bank of the river, known as Farmingtown. The "w" was abandoned in 1879.
Santa Barbara's in California, right? Sure. But it also used to be the name for the area of New Mexico now called Hatch. Santa Barbara was replaced with "Hatch" to pay tribute to a commander of that name at nearby Fort Thorn.
Carlsbad is in Eddy County, but the city also used to be called Eddy in honor of Charles B. Eddy, a prominent cattle rancher from New York. However, when locals discovered that a spring near Eddy was of a similar quality as the lauded one in the Czech town of Karlovy Vary, a.k.a. Carlsbad, they lobbied to switch the name. The Czech spa town is still a huge tourist attraction to this day, so presumably Eddy’s citizens hoped for similar success.
Questa was named San Antonio del Rio Colorado until 1883, when the name was altered to Questa. Perhaps the former moniker was a bit too long to be practical?
Tucumcari got its start as a railroad settlement. It epitomized all the Old West stereotypes of gambling, brothels, and lawlessness. Consequently, it was named Six-Shooter Siding. When it was incorporated in 1903, the town adopted the name of nearby Tucumcari Mountain instead. Probably an easier sell for the tourism department!