Murray's Ranch:
Apple Valley's African-American Dude Ranch

Decoration
By Richard D. Thompson
Decoration


THE OVERALL WEARING DUDE RANCH

Apple Valley was once well known for the guest ranches that flourished there from about World War I to the mid-1950s. Celebrities and plain folk alike sought rest and recreation at such desert retreats as the Yucca Loma Ranch and Dr. Garcelon's place (now Stoddard Jess Ranch), which were the earliest of them all.

Others were Cal Godshall's prominent C Bar G Ranch; Al Mendel's Circle M; the Lazy W Ranch; and McCarthy's, located off the end of Corwin Road near today's airport. However, after a divorce, McCarthy's wife kept this property, and he began a new place, called Mac's Dude Ranch, out at the eastern edge of town. There were also the Kemper Campbell Ranch and the Three Sage Hens, and while they were not within the limits of Apple Valley, they were adjacent to the boundary.

All of these ranches had their own personalities, and many tales have been told about them, but one of the most unusual was the Murray Ranch, also known as the "Overall Wearing Dude Ranch." Murray's was unique in that it was owned by African-Americans and catered to an African-American clientele, although not exclusively. During its heyday in the 1940s and 50s, the ranch was advertised as "The only Negro dude ranch in the world" and it may have been; nobody seems to have challenged the claim.


Photo of Murray's Ranch
MURRAY'S RANCH, WITH BELL MOUNTAIN IN BACKGROUND

Murray's also served as the set for two of the world's only four black singing cowboy movies. Many black celebrities found the low-key ranch life, free from racial problems, just what they had been looking for. The ranch eventually was purchased by one of the most famous black celebrities of all, the world-renowned singer and actress Pearl Bailey, who, for nearly a decade, spent her days as an Apple Valley housewife when she could get away from the demands of her career in films and entertainment.


Photo of 
Murray's Ranch
Photo from Ebony magazine, Feb. 1947
ALTERNATE VIEW OF MURRAY'S RANCH


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