This month is all about celebrating inclusion, diversity and culture for Black History Month. In doing so, Victor Valley Museum partnered with the Town of Apple Valley to talk about the history of Murray’s Dude Ranch and its importance as the first Black-owned dude ranch, hosting A-List celebrities while also serving as one of the only integrated vacation destinations in the nation.

The history of Murray’s Dude Ranch dates to when Nolie Murray, a Black businessman from Los Angeles, and his wife, Lela, decided to convert the former working cattle ranch, at the intersection of Waalew and Bell Mountain Roads, into the nation’s first Black-owned dude ranch.

Lela was sick with lung issues, so the couple moved from the city, buying the Apple Valley property for $100. At the height of widespread segregation practices, their ranch became a favorite vacation spot for the Black community. For nearly 20 years, Murray’s Dude Ranch operated with a pool, tennis courts, riding stables and several small houses. Murray’s Dude Ranch was known for filming Black Westerns and entertaining Hollywood guests like Clark Gable, Lena Horne and boxing champ Joe Louis.

The ranch grew in recognition once Life magazine published images of it featuring Louis during his vacation stay, and Murray’s Dude Ranch was recognized as a popular spot on the “above ground railroad,” a network connecting Black communities to Black property owners, including farms, homesteads and campsites with safe outdoor spaces.

To learn more about Murray’s Dude Ranch, visit the Victor Valley Museum located at 11873 Apple Valley Road in Apple Valley. General admission is $10 (adult), $8 (military/senior), $7 (student), and $5 (children ages 6 to 12). Children 5 and under and museum members are free. Parking is free and the museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. For more information, visit

The Victor Valley Museum’s exhibits of regional, cultural, and natural history and the Museum’s other exciting events and programs reflect the effort by the Board of Supervisors to achieve the Countywide Vision by celebrating arts, culture, and education in the county, creating quality of life for residents and visitors.

Additional County Update News – February 8, 2024

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