Finding fresh water in the Chihuahuan desert that surrounds Van Horn was no easy task, and the discovery of the Van Horn wells in the 1850s provided relief for wagon trains and soldiers traveling through the area. The city was established in 1881, 12 miles north of the well stop, when the Texas and Pacific Railway laid tracks through the area. In the 1920s, the Bankhead Highway followed a parallel route to the railroad through town, and a mix of hotels, motels, and tourist courts sprang up to meet the needs of travelers in this remote region of Texas, a need that continues today. During the Great Depression, Federal Aid projects along US 80 west of Van Horn helped improve the Bankhead Highway, allowing motorists to travel faster and safer through the less populated areas of West Texas. Tourism took an even more prominent role in the Van Horn economy as it is located close to multiple tourist destinations, including Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Fort Davis National Historic Site.
Clark Hotel, 112 W. Broadway
Office building, dance hall, opera hall, pool hall, and saloon – all occupied the building that became the Clark Hotel in 1918. The original entrance faced the railroad tracks, but the popularity of auto travel caused the owners to shift the main entrance to the back of the building, facing the highway. Today it’s a museum, complete with the old saloon’s original bar.
Van Horn Chamber of Commerce