El Rancho Hotel and casino, Las Vegas

25$ chip, El Ranch Casino, Las Vegas
25$ chip from El Rancho casino, Las Vegas.

The El Rancho hotel was the first themed resort in Las Vegas, envisoned by its developer Thomas Hull as a welcoming swimming pool oasis in the desert, with the casino almost just an afterthought. Opened in 1941, the Western frontier theme was crowned by a American windmill - picked out in neon in case you might miss it.

The windmill became a defining image of the Las Vegas strip, and the casino was advertised using the phrase "Stop at the sign of the windmill". In 1960 a fire engulfed the casino on which the windmill stood and destroyed it. The hotel itself escaped the fire, but a Vegas hotel without its casino is not often a success, and despite fighting talk that the casino would be rebuilt, that never happened. By the 1970s the site became a vacant lot, and it is only in 2002 that a substantial building, the Hilton Grand Vacation Club timeshare has been constructed on part of the site.


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Like any modern themed resort, there were a number of items produced that carried the casino's theme:
[matchbook] [casino chips] [chips] [chips]

For online casino items for sale from El Rancho, there's a very large selection normally available at eBay.

Other windmill associated casinos

The Moulin Rouge casino operated in Las Vegas for six months in 1955. Financial troubles seem to have caused it to close, but the building lived on, until destroyed by suspected arson on 29th May 2003. The only obvious connection of this casino was in the name.

A far more tangible windmill association was to be found at Miami Beach, Florida where the Miami Beach casino, Florida had a large traditional type ("Dutch" style) windmill, which may even have been originally designed to pump water.

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Last updated 03/03/2017 Text and images © Mark Berry, 1997-2017 -