Residents of Van Horn will have to forgive me for saying this, but after spending two nights here, I was happy to be leaving. This dusty old town has definitely seen better days. Or maybe all of its days were just as depressing. Van Horn provides a good place to get gas, get some rest, and get going again. But it’s not a place you’ll kick yourself for missing, if you drive by on I-10 without a stop.
The core of Van Horn’s downtown business district parallels Interstate 10 on the north side. The town is long and narrow, as it stretches out between exits 138 and 140. I took this picture, standing just a block south of the western terminus of US 90, which heads south and east from here. As you can (barely) see in the photo, TX-54 begins where US 90 ends, for the drive up to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
If you take the time to drive down Business 10, Broadway Street, here’s what you’ll see: a sign for the Truckers Inn (although the Inn itself is missing)…
… a kinda-cool old sign for a liquor store…
… and the still-impressive neon sign for the Sands Motel.
Your best bet for an overnight stay is probably at the Hotel El Capitan, at the center of town (near the Business 10/TX-54/US-90 intersection). The El Capitan dates back to 1930, and has been nicely restored. In exchange for its historic charm, you’ll pay a little more than you would at Van Horn’s budget-priced motels.
Nearby, the Clark Hotel is one of Van Horn’s oldest buildings. The neon sign is still hanging on to a few scraps of glass…
… and the hotel itself is mostly boarded up. However, there is a small museum on the first floor of the old hotel.
There’s an old Magnolia gas station in Van Horn, which has been nicely restored, and now serves as a headquarters for a tour company.
Not far from the center of town, one city block is taken up by a crumbling old motel, that’s just begging to be restored.
But I think my favorite business of all is “Hernandez Miscellaneous”. Judging by what I can see from the street, it sells ice, cigarettes, cassette players, caps and t-shirts, all with unnecessary apostrophes.
Along the interstate, you’ll spot this sign for a truck stop. It’s near the motel where I stayed, the Super 8, which while not exactly super, it was adequate.