Thomas Hull

Thomas Hull was a key man in advancing and developing the modern Las Vegas Strip.

Thomas Hull was born on October 3, 1893, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He married Lynn Starr, a former entertainer. He died on July 17, 1964.

He built the very first hotel casino on Highway 91 -The Las Vegas Strip-. El Rancho Vegas opened on April 3, 1941, and burned down on June 17, 1960.

El Rancho Vegas was located at the corner of San Francisco Avenue (nowadays West Sahara Avenue) and Highway 91 now Las Vegas Boulevard South or the Las Vegas Strip, across from where the Sahara Hotel & Casino stands today.

This pioneering hotel, not the Flamingo Las Vegas represented the birth of the Las Vegas Strip. Thomas Hull is the father of the Las Vegas Strip.

There are a few legends. One is that Tom Hull got a flat tire on that very corner and while waiting for the tow truck, he started to count the cars coming in and out of the City of Las Vegas.

He started to dream about a swimming pool in the Las Vegas desert's sun. Back on the road, the idea came to his mind to build the first hotel casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

But, according to his wife, Tom told her, he put a man to stand at the corner in Las Vegas for a month and count how many tourists passed through. The number was so high that Hull bought the land for $100 an acre.

El Rancho Las Vegas was the first casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip. The El Rancho resort opened with 63 rooms. It had 144 in 1947, and 220 when it burned down in 1960.

Thomas Hull was a successful marketer who wanted to give his guests more than just a room. He wanted his guests to be entertained, too.

El Rancho Vegas had good shows in Las Vegas. The showroom had a 10-piece band. Some of the stars who had appeared at the El Rancho Vegas were
Betty Grable,
Joe E. Lewis,
Candy Barr,
Chico Marx,
Abbott and Costello,
Eartha Kitt,
Guy Lombardo,
Nat "King" Cole,
Tony Bennett,
Buddy Hackett and
Lena Horne.

There was a dinner theater room called Round Up Room and the Chuck Wagon Buffet with seating for 250 people.

All future hotels copied this buffet feature from El Rancho Vegas. Coffee was free, and breakfast was on the house, being served from 4:15 am to 6:30 am.

For its guests, El Rancho had amenities like
shopping for men's and women's clothing,
a health club,
a pool,
a barbershop,
a beauty salon,
a gift shop,
laundry and valet services,
horseback riding,
year-round swimming,
badminton courts and
an outdoor barbecue.

Thomas Hull was a smart businessman, but he did not know anything about the gambling business. He leased out the casino to people who knew about gambling.

The casino opened with two blackjack tables, one roulette table one dice table and seventy slot machines in an intimate gambling environment.

By 1945 the casino had several blackjack tables, two roulette tables and two dice tables.

El Rancho Vegas had a yacht for its high rollers to use at Lake Meade.

Starting in 1942, guests needed reservations well in advance to stay at El Rancho Vegas.

Within 10 years that part of Highway 91 Las Vegas South became known as the Las Vegas Strip. When the resort opened, some gambling clubs were located here and there on Highway 91.

Some celebrities got married at El Rancho.

El Rancho Vegas was the place for first class Las Vegas entertainment, and it stayed like that for almost 20 years.

After the fire, Beldon Katleman, who was the owner, said that he would rebuild a fancier and bigger El Rancho Vegas, but he never did. He moved to Los Angeles and left the gaming business for good.

The land is mostly vacant today. In 2001, Hilton Las Vegas built the Hilton Grand Vacation Club time share on part of the property.

Thomas Hull to Casino Gambling Instructor

Thomas Hull Page to Las Vegas Entertainment