Marathon was established with the coming of the railroad in 1882. At first it was a shipping and supply point for area ranchers; later it became a railhead for silver ore coming up from Mexico. Over the years, Marathon’s population grew and declined with the fortunes of local extractive industries like mining and wax production. However, the establishment of Big Bend National Park made Marathon the closest gateway town to the Park, and a jumping off point for Park visitors.
In 1980, the historic Gage Hotel was restored and opened for business, setting a new direction for this lovely west Texas town. Today there are a variety of hotels, beds and breakfasts, and vacation rentals to choose from. Along with fine dining and an eclectic mix of shops and galleries, Marathon has become a vacation destination in its own right. The Marathon Chamber of Commerce website claims that in Marathon there is nothing “to do”, and indeed Marathon is a great place to relax and do nothing. However, don’t be fooled, there are many enjoyable activities available in and around Marathon. The Marathon Post Park, 5 miles south of town is the site of Camp Pena Colorado, an army outpost from 1879-1896, has some of the best bird watching in the region. Marathon is close not only to Big Bend National Park, but also many area attractions. Visitors enjoy mild weather year-round, and some of the darkest night skies in the continental US.