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Thunderbird (resort)

The Thunderbird Hotel was a Las Vegas, Nevada, hotel/casino that operated from September 2, 1948 to July 6, 1992, and was the fourth resort to open on the Las Vegas Strip. For the last 15 years of its existence, it changed names twice, first as the Silverbird in 1977, and then the El Rancho in 1982, borrowing the name of the very first resort that opened on the Strip.

The Thunderbird has the distinction of being the resort where singer Rosemary Clooney made her first appearance in Las Vegas in 1951, and where Judy Garland made her final Vegas appearance in 1965.

On July 6, 1992, the resort permanently closed its doors. Like many other legendary resorts, it became a throwback to the old days and could not compete with newer resorts. For eight years the building lay vacant while developers competed with one another for the land. Among the proposed projects included a casino called Starship Orion where the resort would be shaped like a huge starship, and for several years the marquee claimed that "Countryland USA" would be coming soon. During the time of the hotel-casino's closing and the implosion, there were local rumors of the building being haunted by ghosts. KVBC News 3 of Las Vegas did an investigation into the hauntings and discovered that most of the structure was rotten, with a handful of operating slot machines and some rooms totally renovated and maintained. This report led to the State of Nevada ordering Turnberry Associates to consider a purchase of the property. In 2000 the land was purchased by Turnberry Associates, and on October 3, 2000, the old resort was imploded.

The Turnberry Place condominium complex now stands on the site. The El Rancho sign, which was not removed, was covered with a new sign advertising the Turnberry development. Since early 2006 part of the new sign's south side has been missing, and as of April 2006 the words "El Rancho" are visible.

This land is now slated to be the site for the $2.8 billion Fontainebleau Resort.

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