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Iconic bison that once welcomed Apple Valley visitors roams off into the sunset

APPLE VALLEY, Calif. ( — If you’ve recently traveled through the intersection of Highway 18 and Rancherias Road in the Town of Apple Valley you might have noticed the once iconic bison that welcomed visitors is no longer there.

The Town of Apple Valley confirmed the news Monday morning via its Facebook page.

According to the post, the property recently sold and the new owner has graciously gifted the bison sign to long-time Apple Valley residents who will keep it and are planning to erect it somewhere again in the future. Town Officials said the sign “is in good hands” but did not mention who owned it.

The Apple Valley Legacy Museum started a Facebook post on August 26, 2018, about an event at the site of the historic Buffalo Trading post. Six days ago, the museum added a comment to that same post and said “Kari Leon and Chris Hitt saved the day!”

In 1947 Zeke and Frances Cornia and their young son, Danny, moved from Long Beach to Apple Valley and built the Black Horse Motel in the Village area. It catered to equestrian guests, boasting eight rooms and stables.

A gift shop selling silver and turquoise Indian jewelry and small Indian artifacts opened in the office in 1953. This was the beginning of the Cornia’s fascination with all things Native American, and the seed for the future Buffalo Trading Post.

In 1955 the family sold the motel and built the existing structure on the corner of Highway 18 and Rancherias.

Designed by Los Angeles architect Douglas McFarland, it incorporated Spanish and Indian elements of the Southwest. The adobe and wooden building was of Pueblo design, with beamed ceilings and lodge-pole arcade.

On the west side of the shop were the family’s living quarters, also furnished and decorated in keeping with the Indian theme. The living room, with its massive stone fireplace, was a good place for the family to relax, as well as entertain guests after the close of business.

Chris Hitt, the owner of Hitt Plumbing Co., is a well-known and highly respected businessman that has called Apple Valley home since the 1960s.

Where will the iconic bison end up next?

Buffalo Trading Post Apple Valley
(The free-standing buffalo sign was constructed in 1960 — Photo courtesy Town of Apple Valley — Facebook)

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