Flat Tire Led To First Strip Hotel In 1941

Something as common as a flat tire, was the catalyst that ultimately led to the first hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. A man who was simply passing through the Las Vegas area, caught a vision of future things and added an important chapter in Las Vegas history.

When you read Vegas history, or what is purported to be history, it can sometimes be hard to separate fact from fiction. There are many myths and legends that make up the fabric of the Las Vegas story. Sometimes, history seekers will find several different versions of the same historical event.

We have reported before about the fact that Bugsy Siegel was not the Strip’s visionary, and that his Flamingo Hotel was not the first hotel to built on the Strip. It was the third and was opened five years after the first that was the El Rancho in 1941. The Flamingo opened in 1946.

This is the story, the history, of that first Strip hotel, the El Rancho.  The original El Rancho Vegas was located on the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara. It was closed on July 17, 1960 due to a fire.

The El Rancho came into being due to a very common occurrence, a flat tire, but one that ultimately led to the creation of the hotel.

The man who caught the vision for a Strip hotel was a California hotelier named Thomas Hull. One day he was driving to Salt Lake City one when he had a flat tire on the highway that is now called the Strip, Las Vegas Boulevard.

While his traveling companion went into town to get the tire fixed, he noticed the flow of traffic, especially noticing the cars with out of state tags. In fact, he was so amazed by the large number of cars passing by that he stayed for two more days and counted the traffic. He was impressed with what he saw. He began to calculate the possibilities of building a hotel along this well traveled highway.

Being inspired by what he saw, Hull then returned to his company’s board of directors and revealed his plan to build a hotel in Las Vegas. And this he did. In April, 1941, the El Rancho opened becoming the first hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Read more and see photos here.


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