Texas Tech University

National Ranching Heritage Center

DeVitt Mallet Museum


A Yard of Turkey Red: The Western Bandanna
McKanna Gallery

Many a 19th century cowboy bought a square yard of Turkey red cloth at the local mercantile store and proudly tied it around his neck. This flamboyant neckwear came to identify the colorful cowboys and buckaroos of the West, and provided evidence, along with the boots and hat, that they were not "sodbusters." These bold and patterned bandannas were later popularized in Western fiction, becoming another portion of the iconic cowboy attire emblazoned on dime novel covers and Wild West Show posters.

In the Shadows: Cattle Rustling
McCombs Gallery

Cattle rustling is as old as cattle raising and has been present wherever people raise cattle for food. The method have changed, but the motivations for cattle theft mostly stayed the same.
This exhibit compares the past and present realities of cattle theft including how law enforcement agencies have adapted to combat this crime. The exhibit features artifacts that illustrate how rustlers ply their illicit trade and how law enforcement works to fight and punish cattle thieves.

Buckskin and Beads: Native American Clothing and Artifacts

Quanah Parker came from a place in time and culture when surnames were unknown. The identity of a man was conveyed in a single word, in this case "Quanah," an Anglo aberration of a word that translates as "eagle" in the Comanche language. The association that grew between the eagle of the Comanche and the cattlemen of Texas is part of history.

This exhibit addresses the unique friendship that developed between Quanah and the Burk Burnett family (6666 Ranch) and the artifacts that were given to the Burnett family from Quanah and his descendants. In addition to the many pieces of clothing and artifacts representing the Comanche tribe, the exhibit also includes clothing and artifacts from other Plains tribes such as the Apache, Kiowa, and Cheyenne Indians.

Recent Acquisitions: New Additions to the Collections
Stevens Gallery

An exhibit of diverse items recently acquired by the NRHC is on display in the Stevens Gallery, including a pair of wooly chaps made  popular in the 1800s in the northern plains.

The Recent Acquisitions exhibit includes a Glenna Goodacre sculpture, "Tonita," donated by Don Hunt along with five shotguns and a rifle from Burns Hamilton. A Jack Sorenson painting donated by Byron Newby is displayed with two saddles added to the NRHC collections: a McClellan Saddle from the Quarter-Circle Circle Ranch in Colorado and a leather saddle from Ozark Leather Co. in Waco, Texas.

The exhibit also includes a few bound volumes from a collection of American Rifleman magazines from the 1950s through the 1970s, a pair of spurs carrying the NRHC brand made and donated by Bill Brock, a 1911 wedding platter from Kate McCulloch, a Philco radio donated by Elvis Wright and a graphite-on-paper drawing entitled "Study of Two Bulls," by David Lugare.  

Get a Grip Handgun Exhibit
Flores Gallery

This exhibit features handguns from the NRHC and Museum of Texas Tech that highlights several historically significant firearms that contributed to the evolution of handguns from the early 1800s through the early 1900s. The firearms include the iconic Colt Model 1851 revolver, Colt M1911 semi-automatic pistol and one of many Pepperbox revolvers from the NRHC collections. Among the firearms featured is an unusual "flashlight gun" that was manufactured in the 1920's.

Wagons That Moved History
Cash Gallery

This exhibit features six wagons important to the evolution of frontier transportation. Probably no wagon in ranching history is better known than the Chuck Wagon, an 1866 invention of rancher Charles Goodnight when he created the first kitchen on wheels to sustain cowboys on long cattle drives. Moving freight, however, required a heavy covered wagon like the Conestoga, which could transport loads up to six tons drawn by horses, mules or oxen. Ranchers used a lightweight Buckboard Buggy for trips to town to carry dry goods and packages back to the ranch. Farm Wagons had higher sides than a buckboard and heavier running gear to haul hay, feed or fencing. By the late 19th century, improved roads and increased mobility made the light four-wheel Town Buggy (with or without a collapsible top) the most popular vehicle in America.

The turn of the 20th century introduced an even more popular and sporty open carriage called the Phaeton Coupe. Used only for short trips or pleasure, the Phaeton had rubber-tired wheels, patent leather fenders and dash, oil carriage lamps and a locking coupe trunk.

Burk Burnett Bedroom
Burnett Gallery

The Burk Burnett Bedroom is a permanent NRHC exhibit with items donated by Samuel Burk Burnett's great-granddaughter, Anne W. Marion. Marion is president of Burnett Ranches Ltd., which includes the Four Sixes ranch founded by her great-grandfather, one of the most well-known and respected ranchers in Texas.

This exhibit space duplicates one of 11 bedrooms in "the big house" at the Four Sixes headquarters. Among the Burnett pieces are the brass bed, grandfather clock, secretary, side table, fireplace and mantle, rug, books and saddle (by saddle maker R.T. Frazier). The gold-plated chandelier was originally made to function using either gas or electricity.


National Ranching Heritage Center