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to be built on the Las Vegas Strip, at the future southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue. The El Rancho Vegas was conceived by ThomasEl Rancho Vegas was a hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, built in what would later become Winchester, Nevada. It was the first resort to be built on the Las Vegas Strip, at the future southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue. The El Rancho Vegas was conceived by Thomas Hull, who owned several hotels in California and wanted to expand his operations to Las Vegas. Hull decided to build his new resort along Highway 91, on desert land located just outside of city limits. He intended to target motorists traveling from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, although his remote location was met with skepticism. The El Rancho Vegas was designed by Wayne McAllister, and originally included 65 rooms, located in cottages spread across the property. The El Rancho opened on April 3, 1941, with an Old West theme. The resort proved to be a success, which prompted the opening of other resorts on Highway 91, eventually transforming it into the Las Vegas Strip. The El Rancho underwent several ownership changes, and was leased in 1948 to a group that included Jake Katleman. When he died in 1950, his nephew, Beldon Katleman, took over ownership. The El Rancho added an all-you-can-eat buffet in the 1940s, popularizing the buffet concept in Las Vegas. The El Rancho property was also home to the KENO radio station in the 1940s, and the KSHO-TV television station in the 1950s. On June 17, 1960, a fire destroyed the El Rancho's main building, which housed the casino, restaurants, and showroom. The cause of the fire was never determined. The El Rancho closed as a result of the incident, although the cottages were left unharmed, leaving 222 rooms intact. In the early 1960s, the Thunderbird resort, located across the street, leased 88 of the El Rancho's rooms and operated them under the name Thunderbird West. The cottages were then leased in 1964 to another company, which rebranded them as El Rancho Vegas Motor Inn. The El Rancho struggled as a non-gaming motel, and Katleman put the property up for sale in the late 1960s, eventually selling it to Howard Hughes in 1970. Most of the remaining buildings were demolished by the end of the decade, although some were relocated to Old Vegas, an amusement park near Henderson, Nevada. Another El Rancho cottage was moved to Pahrump, Nevada. The original property sat vacant for several decades after the Hughes purchase, eventually becoming one of the last large, undeveloped parcels on the Las Vegas Strip. Numerous projects were proposed for the land, but did not materialize. A timeshare resort, the Hilton Grand Vacations Club, eventually opened on the southern edge of the old El Rancho property in 2004. MGM Mirage purchased the remaining acreage in 2007, and eventually opened its Festival Grounds on the property in 2015. The Thunderbird was eventually renamed as the El Rancho Hotel and Casino in 1982, after the original El Rancho resort.