History of the Marathon Motel
The Marathon Motel is located on Hwy 90, half a mile west of the community of Marathon, Texas. Marathon is one of a handful of communities located in an area of Southwest Texas known as the Big Bend region, and is considered the north "Gateway" to Big Bend National Park.The motel was established circa 1940 by a Mr. Hampton. Like so many small motels and motor-courts built during that period, they endured a variety of economic conditions, and owners. The 1960s brought the introduction of "chain" hotels and motels.
Sadly, many of these once charming, roadside relics of Americana, fell into obscurity, followed by a variety of demises. The Marathon Motel was no exception. By the early 1980s, the Motel was already into a state of decline as evidenced in the 1984 movie, Paris Texas. By 1987, Brewster County was considering condemning the Motel.
Recognizing the uniqueness, charm and character of the Motel and associated property, John and Mary Hoover of San Angelo Texas, decided to purchase the property as a retirement "Fixer-Upper" project. The Motel consists of 10 rooms in five duplex cabins. In addition are 19 full hook-up RV spaces. Situated on ten acres, it boasts some of the most magnificent, unobstructed views of the Marathon Basin and surrounding mountains, as well as the most spectacular sunsets and starry skies.
Over the next thirteen years, John and Mary, with the help of locals and friends, made the necessary renovations and upgrades to restore the Motel to its previous comfort and charm. For this reason, the Hoovers are credited as having "Rescued" the Marathon motel. Daniel Self of Austin, Texas purchased the Motel in August 2000. During a Spring Break trip in 1999 to the Big Bend with his daughter, they spent a night at the Motel. Danny got up for a run the next morning and saw the "For Sale" sign in front of the office. Lured by the beauty of the Marathon Basin, the friendly people, and the history and natural charm of Marathon, he decided to purchase the motel. His vision was not only to maintain the comfortable, casual atmosphere, but to continue the efforts already begun to enhance the natural charm, beauty and guest comfort.
His contributions to the property began in the Spring of 2000 with the construction of an Adobe walled courtyard, which takes center stage. With its fountain, lush landscaping, covered fireplace and surrounding mountain views, it has created a magnificent setting for a variety of functions such as weddings, reunions and informal gatherings.
In response to this interest, the original laundry room, which was no longer in use, was converted into a fully equipped, health inspected kitchen capable of catering to the needs of these functions.
All materials used in the construction are natural, such as mud and straw adobe bricks, and milled pine timbers. With water conservation as a primary concern, native trees and plants are used throughout. This has, in addition, created a haven for a variety of birds and other wildlife.
As a service to our guests as well as the community, 100.1 FM "Basin Radio", and working in cooperation with Mountain Zone Cable TV, Cable channel 98 and Cable channel 6 were established in a room adjacent to the restaurant. The goal is to provide the community, as well as our visitors with music and entertainment, public announcements and informal programming about the Big Bend and surrounding area.
Like many a venerable Grand Dame, the Marathon Motel has certainly witnessed its fair share of changes in its 60 year history. What had become a forgotten, deteriorating relic of days gone by, is now making a long deserved comeback. Combined with an increase in population, due to more and more people discovering the diverse charm and natural beauty of the area, and the recent surge in tourism, the Marathon Motel will be able to take its place as a focal point for both community, as well as visitor related events and activities.