The Skull Valley Service Station was built in 1925 by Charles Frice as a Black Smith Shop and a Gas Station. By the 1940’s it was a Garage and Gas Station.

First Cafe was opened in a room in the back of the service station by Ray and Elba Shook in 1961. In 1963 the Shooks built a new cafe just across the tracks from the store and service station. They placed a large skull on the roof to draw customers. It was operated regularly a cafe until the spring of 2005.


First Hotel was called the Russell Hotel. It was built about 1900 and had 12 rooms. It burned to the ground in 1936.

First Stage Stop was started by John Dickson in the late 1800s and was used by the freighters. It included a blacksmith shop and corrals for mules and horses. Mrs. Dickson cooked for the freighters.

First Saloon was in the Russell Hotel and was run by John Dickson in 1905.

First Store adjoined the saloon in 1905. It was a tiny store and was run by Joe and Aunt Ida Hall.

 First Services: Electricity did not reach Skull Valley until about 1947, and was brought to rural Arizona as a result of the federal government-sponsored Rural Electrification Association.

Telephone service was here by 1940 but was available at only two locations: Cattle Inspector Thad Delk’s home and at the Skull Valley Store. The railroad had its own in-company telephone wires brought in along the rails. Scattered ranches didn’t get telephone service until the 1950s.

First Ranch School: a ranch-oriented residential school for adults with disabilities was started in 1947. Rock and Ramona Sterling purchased the property in 1957 and operated the school until 1992, when they retired. It became a non-profit organization at that time and continues to operate as Sterling Ranch.

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