Van Horn, Texas

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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.

Though I can’t vouch for it personally, you might want to check out Chuy’s Restaurant.  It’s the closest thing Van Horn has to a claim to fame. John Madden often stops here as he rides cross-country (opting for a tour bus instead of a plane).  The sportscaster praised Chuy’s in his book, John Madden’s Ultimate Tailgating.  Chuy’s has returned the favor, designating part of the restaurant as the John Madden Haul of Fame, complete with photos and a chair reserved for Madden.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive around Van Horn, then on to Valentine and Marfa, via US 90.

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