J.J. Gibson
Memorial Park

Designed to permanently commemorate the open-range era in the West, 18 life-size bronzes of rangy Longhorns were sculpted and placed in a natural setting in front of the DeVitt-Mallet Museum Building at the National Ranching Heritage Center. The park-like area was named to honor the memory of longtime Four Sixes Ranch Manager J.J. Gibson of Guthrie, Texas.

David M. DeVitt and
Mallet Ranch Museum Building

Modern-day stress fades at the main entrance of the DeVitt-Mallet Museum Building. Inside, the pace slows; the tension eases. The feeling of being in a sprawling ranch building is real—the museum was designed by architects Bill Cantrell Planners Inc. to reflect the character of Texas and Southwestern ranch architecture.

Proctor Park

In 1999, the Texas Tech Board of Regents designated the 16 acres of the National Ranching Heritage Center as Proctor Park in honor of Foy Proctor (1896-1988). Raised on his parents' West Texas Ranch. Mr. Proctor began ranching independently in 1917, eventually owning cattle ranches in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and a large cattle buying partnership in Nebraska. His primary ranches were the C Ranch north of Midland, Texas, and the Proctor Ranch, which included 95 sections of the old XIT in Hartley County, Texas. The ranches received awards for cattle breeding and soil and water conservation practices. In 1984, he received the National Golden Spur Award honoring his leadership in the livestock industry. Mr. Proctor's legacy continues to support education and youth through his bequest to Texas Tech University. Click here to view the dedication plaque.

Los Corralitos

For more than two decades, land at the National Ranching Heritage Center stood vacant, awaiting Los Corralitos, the “Little Corrals.” What the Ranch Headquarters Planning Committee did not know when they identified the old fortified home for placement in the historical park were the secrets that had been sealed inside it for more than 200 years. Those secrets would eventually cause Los Corralitos to be the only total reproduction at the National Ranching Heritage Center. Read More.

El Capote Cabin

It is a paradox that a crude log cabin, so ordinary in character and clouded by uncertainties, could boast an eminent genealogy. El Capote has been linked with royalty, politicians, war heroes and a future United States President. Read More.

Hedwig's Hill Dogtrot House

The Old West is a story with many chapters, each one comprised of the people who played a role in the settlement of the new frontier. The log house from south of Fort Mason, Texas, represents one of those chapters. It’s a story of 7,000 German immigrants to Texas, an unsolved murder and the transformation of a building as the times called for a change. Read More.

Jowell House

Stories of Indian attacks, cattle drives and the women left behind to tend the ranch have been recreated in movies and other works of fiction. The prototype for those stories could have been created by the family who lived in the stone house on the JOLY Ranch in Palo Pinto County, Texas. Read More

Mail Camp

Just inside the west boundary of Knox County, Texas, some 25 miles northeast of Guthrie, a 12-foot by 16-foot rock building stands alone in the Mare Pasture of the Lowrance Ranch. Known by ranch hands over the years as the Mail Camp, the structure may have been built in the late 1870s near a military road, later used as a stage line route. Read More

Matador Half-Dugout

Civilization pushed West of the Mississippi River, erecting homes as it went. It stopped short of West Texas, however, stunned by the arid, flat country. The land was said to be an “uninhabitable wasteland” by Army explorer R.B. Marcy. So most people avoided the area and moved elsewhere. True adventurers who saw the West Texas plains as a place where cattle could get fat, cautiously ventured in. There, they encountered an environment void of anything to disrupt the endless horizon. For shelter, they scooped out a hole in the ground. Read More

Waggoner Ranch Commissary

The Waggoner Ranch Commissary represents the large ranch that provided for its own during the growth and development of the cattle industry in the West. It stands for family continuity over the generations and for the impact of oil discovery on ranch land. Read More

Long S Whiteface Camp

Almost anything was possible in the American West, when determination was behind a goal. Christopher Columbus Slaughter (1837-1919) is a perfect example of such a story. His ranch, including leased land, at one time totaled more than two million acres. Yet it started out as a mere hole in the ground. His Long S Whiteface Camp headquarters is a link between the simplest of dugouts and later homes built when the railroad made lumber accessible. Read More

Box and Strip House

A ranch wife refused to move West with her husband until he promised to build her a frame house above ground. She told him, “I will not have dirt over my head until I die.” So, he built her a box and strip house, which may or may not have made her happy. Although economical, these houses had no insulation. The walls moved in and out during a strong wind. In a snowstorm, streaks of snow that corresponded exactly with the cracks in the wall formed on bed quilts. Read More

Bairfield School

The usual ranch schoolhouse was a one-room building named for the rancher or the ranch. Others had colorful monikers like Lick Skillet, Possum Trot, Cedar Ridge, Hell Roaring Holler and Chicken Foot. The Bairfield Schoolhouse was briefly called Polecat University, after an encounter with a skunk. Like the 16-by-16-foot Bairfield Schoolhouse from near Clarendon, Texas, the schools remained as long as children needed them. Read More

Harrell House

It took four owners and 34 years to build the house that was situated in a quiet draw beside Hackberry Creek in Scurry County. But it only took the sisters Fay and Myrtle Harrell, plus “a jackleg carpenter,” a little more than a year to totally restore it from near total dilapidation. The dwelling sheltered families during the era that began with free-range ranching and ended with barbed wire and agriculture. The Harrell House is typical of home expansion. The rancher or farmer could ill afford to discard any building. As families grew and fortunes improved, houses, likewise, expanded. Read More

Masterson JY Bunkhouse

“Home was wherever a cowboy hung his hat.” The cliché had truth to it. Cowboys of the American West were vagabonds, roaming from place to place. At the ranch headquarters, the bunkhouse was their home until they moved on again. Read More

80 John Wallace House

The latest addition to Proctor Park reminds visitors of the contributions of Daniel Webster "80 John" Wallace to the history of ranching. Read more

Las Escarbadas

The XIT, according to author/historian Joe B. Frantz, was the largest ranch under fence in the United States and probably the world. It was not a financial success, he said, but the ranch was significant. “It showed there need not be a conflict between now and the future. As civilization crowded in, the XIT made room for it and welcomed it, and so became a part of the folklore of history. The investors intended from the beginning to sell out, to become a great land development company to bring settlers in.” Read More

JA Milk and Meat House

The JA is among the best-known ranches in Texas and perhaps the entire Southwest. Well-run through more than 100 years, its good management plus the cast of players who owned and operated the ranch have propelled the JA into a prominent place in history. The people behind the formation of the JA Ranch were Charles Goodnight, John Adair and Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie Adair, an unlikely partnership, or so many thought. Read More

Matador Office

The 400,000-acre Matador Ranch was one of several huge spreads owned or backed by foreign investors. Unlike some that were bought to ultimately be sold again as farm and ranch development property, the Matador was bought for the long haul. From the beginning, it was managed to be a profit-making, productive ranch. Because of close supervision by its Scottish owners of everything from cowboy etiquette to the books, the business was profitable far into the 20th century. Read More

Barton House

It was the dream of Joseph James Barton to have his elegant, two-and-a-half-story house located near a railroad depot and train. Although with much effort to make the dream a reality, it didn’t materialize. The Bartons’ home was the first structure in a planned community on a railroad line that never came through. Read More

Renderbrook-Spade Blacksmith Shop

The most distinct sound on a ranch was the ring of a blacksmith’s hammer hitting iron. The smell of coal or burning mesquite wood filled the air, as bar iron glowed red in the hot fire. In short order, the skilled blacksmith created a new rim for a wagon wheel, a pair of shoes for the mule team, a branding iron for the ranch hands and repaired the windmill for the ranch. On a large spread, one of the first structures built was the blacksmith’s shop. And one of the most valuable ranch hands was the smithy. Read More

Spur Granary and Stables

The Spur Granary was built with “sweat equity,” long before anyone knew what those words meant. Ultimately, it was designed to make an easier job each day of feeding the ranch’s horses. At the time of its donation to the National Ranching Heritage Center in 1969, the structure was still operative, but it was presented for preservation and interpretation because of its historical value. The granary represents human ingenuity and innovation, byproducts of this well-known ranch. Read More

U Lazy S Carriage House

Not every rancher had a carriage house, and certainly not those just starting out. The building housed fine buggies and surreys, pulled by excellent horses. The carriage house was a possession aspired to by many young men. It came with prosperity and usually a wife and children, as most dignified ladies did not ride long distances horseback. The carriage house was an accouterment of John B. Slaughter’s fine ranch headquarters in Post, Texas, made possible from years of hard work and smart business transactions. Read More

Canon Ranch Sheep Hospital

In the 1920s, the Canon Ranch in southwest Texas built this sheep hospital shed to aid in the battle against the screwworm infestation. Prior to the 1962 screwworm eradication program along the Texas/Mexico border, the worms were killing hundreds of head of livestock every year. The cowboys on the ranch carried medicine in their saddlebags to treat wounds on animals in the pasture, but there was only so much that could be done to help in the pasture. More severe cases of infestation were brought to the hospital shed where the livestock could be protected from flies while the wounds were treated. Read More

Reynolds Gentry Barn

The cattle business could be a good life for those who worked hard and were lucky. Money made from cattle drives often built homes and barns on ranches throughout the West. One such sizeable structure became the stable for Thoroughbred race horses and game cocks, not the kind of livestock found on a typical ranch. Read More

Ropes Depot

The railroad depot was an exciting place. With people coming and going and cowhands returning from cattle markets, all sorts of news was brought from other towns to the far-flung settlements in the West. In the depot, all the arrangements were made for cattle movement, package and freight shipment and passenger travel. Most depots looked similar—even the paint colors were standardized by the railroad company that built them. In some towns, the depot was just one of several buildings comprising a railhead. Read More

6666 Barn

If walls could speak, what might this old barn tell? It was built by one of the most influential and prosperous ranchers in Texas and eventually housed expensive horses with fine bloodlines, animals admired by some of the wealthiest men and women in the West. For many years a landmark in Guthrie, Texas, the 6666 (pronounced “Four Sixes”) Barn stood near the imposing home Samuel Burk Burnett built in 1917 to be “the finest ranch house in West Texas,” headquarters of his ranching empire. Read More

Pitchfork Cookhouse

The simple wood-frame structure was a sanctuary for family reunions, birthday parties and, of course, daily meals for the ranch hands and cowboys as early as 1900. The building sat just a few yards away from the Big House, where many of the Pitchfork ranch managers made their home. A few yards out the back door of the Cookhouse, the land drops off to the north bank of the South Wichita River. Horses graze in nearby pastures. Tamed wild turkeys milled around nearby eating corn chips thrown out for them by the cook. And at every mealtime, the old dinner bell was rung to call everyone in to eat. Read More

Picket and Sotol

A rancher built for the long run, but the pioneer "made do." The settler heading for a new life in the west used materials at hand to construct a shelter for himself and his family. Where he could find trees, he built a log cabin. In hill country, he used river rock and stones. On the plains he shoveled a hole in the ground for a dugout.

Far West Texas was a country between trees and hills and plains, with no rocks or trees and the soil was sandy. Here were crumbly caliche, small brush and desert plants. But the land was available to homesteaders, if they could handle the life it required of them. Read More

© 2015 National Ranching Heritage Center
Texas Tech University
3121 Fourth Street, Lubbock, Texas 79409
Tel: (806) 742-0498
Fax: (806) 742-0616