A precursor to today's "experience-based tourism," the working dude ranch was enormously popular. Only 90 or so miles away from Los Angeles, these ranches—with names like the Lazy W, Yucca Loma Ranch, C Bar G Ranch, and Three Sage Hens—were centered primarily around Victorville and neighboring Apple Valley. While LIFE magazine photographers had originally been sent to these ranches in '37 to cover rodeo-going stars like Clara Bow and Tex Ritter, they quickly honed in on a more interesting story. Heavyweight boxing champion and Wild West enthusiast Joe Louis was in town, and he was spending a lot of time at a place called Murray's Dude Ranch. Besides the fact that Louis was one of the most idolized men in the world, this visit was of particular interest to the white mainstream media for two reasons: Joe Louis was black, and Murray's Ranch was billed as "the only Negro Dude Ranch in the world."