El Rancho (1982-1992)
El Rancho (1982-1992)
Location: North Strip
2755 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
What’s There Now: The Drew
Hotel is imploded
There have only been a few examples of more than one casino having the same name – dual Castaways comes to mind – but one of the most famous is this, the second major resort on The Strip to be called El Rancho.
The first, of course, was literally the first resort on what would eventually become The Strip. That El Rancho opened in 1941 and burned down in 1960.
Although this El Rancho is officially dated 1982, its origins go all the way back to 1948. It was in that year that a casino resort called The Thunderbird opened. It carried that name all the way until 1977 when it was remodeled and renamed The Silverbird.
The hotel was purchased in 1981 by Ed Torres, who had co-owned The Aladdin for a time and was reputed to be closely connected to various organized crime figures. Torres remodeled the property again, adding a Spanish adobe style facade, and the next year relaunched it as El Rancho.
Torres expanded the property dramatically, adding a new room tower, a bowling alley, a 90,000 square-foot casino addition, and more.
Despite all of the revisions, the hotel suffered financially for most of its existence and by the time newer, fancier properties like The Mirage and Excalibur had opened in 1989 and 1990, El Rancho became an after-thought for most Vegas visitors.
The hotel closed on July 6, 1992, but its history would continue for years.
El Rancho became one of the Strip’s biggest eyesores. Located right across the street from Circus Circus, the crumbling facade and dark buildings were a blight on the neighborhood.
Various owners over the next few years promised big things for the property including a country music themed resort (Countryland USA) and a space themed casino (Starship Orion). None of the plans ever came to pass and El Rancho remained a vacant derelict until October of 2000.
The property was purchased by the company that owned Turnberry Place, a complex of high-rise condo units on Paradise Road right behind El Rancho. Tired of their million-dollar residences looking down on an abandoned building, they bought the place and had it imploded on October 3, 2000. Green lawns were planted in its place, which remained until the land was sold in 2007 to a company intending to build a new $4 billion resort called Fontainebleau on the site.
That property broke ground in April of 2007 but sunk into bankruptcy in 2009. The partially constructed, 68-story building has been sitting abandoned ever since, taking over the mantle as The Strip’s biggest eyesore from the very hotel it replaced.