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Destination Spotlight – National Ranching Heritage Center

One of my favorite attractions in Lubbock is the National Ranching Heritage Center (NRHC). You can not only see, but fully experience the Old West at this magical place. I couldn’t wait to feature them as the Destination Spotlight! I caught up with Julie Hodges, the Helen DeVitt Jones endowed manager of education, to learn more about the facility.

What can visitors experience at the NRHC?

Windmill-in-front-of-ranch-house,-visitors_wide-shotThe NRHC, located on the Texas Tech University campus, is a 27.5 acre museum and historical park with 48 ranching structures and objects dating back to the early 19th century. In addition to the historical park, the NRHC has 38 life-size bronze outdoor art pieces and a 44,000 square foot museum building with six galleries featuring permanent, as well as temporary exhibits of art, photography and artifacts that capture historical and contemporary Western life. A dynamic institution that tells ranching’s story, the NRHC also provides a range of educational programs for children, youth and adults focusing on pioneer history, western culture, natural resource management and other current and historical ranching subjects.
The Ranching Heritage Association (RHA), the NRHC’s support organization, was conceived by ranchers and historians who recognized the need to preserve ranching history and traditions and was chartered as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation in 1969. The RHA was established to preserve the physical, social and cultural aspects of ranching and assist in developing, interpreting and maintaining public interest and educational programs about ranching. RHA hosts and supports special events, art and artifact shows and exhibits, award programs, publications as well as seminars and symposiums supporting the NRHC mission.

What are some annual events at the NRHC?
Candlelight at the Ranch
This year, Candlelight at the Ranch will celebrate the traditional spirit of a pioneer Christmas. This annual holiday event offers a glimpse into the past as visitors experience yuletide celebrations that took place on the open prairie more than 100 years ago.

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Ranch Day
Spend some time in the Old West during  Ranch Day. Activities like rope making, leather stamping, horseback riding, chuck wagons, paint cattle branding and more can be enjoyed by young visitors, and for the adults we will have guides in period clothing in each structure that will share stories of pioneer days. Also, enjoy viewing some of the spurs and firearms in the NRHC’s collection.

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Summer Stampede
The RHA invites everyone to enjoy an evening of art, music, food and dancing at Summer Stampede. Twenty noted artists and artisans will be featured with exquisite works (paintings, sculptures, spurs, bits, leatherwork) on sale at the event. A buffet dinner will be served, and there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy some awesome art, eat, drink and mingle before the Summer Stampede Dance.

Golden Spur Award Ceremony
The National Golden Spur Award is a joint recognition of an outstanding rancher by some of the industry’s leading organizations, among them the American Quarter Horse Association, National Cattlemen’s Foundation, RHA, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association and Texas Farm Bureau.

You mentioned exhibits at the NRHC. What are some exhibits currently on display?
Harold Dow Bugbee: Original Cowboy Artist of the Plains
The NRHC is proud to exhibit selected works of Harold Dow Bugbee on loan from the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. Bugbee is credited as being The Original Artist of the Texas Plains, and his work demonstrates why he deserves this title. The exhibit is underwritten by the CH Foundation and guest curated by Michael Grauer of the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas.

Lever-Action Rifles
This is an exhibit that examines the history and development of the lever-action rifle from its earliest form. The exhibit also features lever-action firearms from the NRHC collections.

Saddling Up
This exhibit showcases one-of-a-kind saddles on loan from the Cattle Raisers Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit the NRHC, it’s a must-see! Here are the fast facts:

Location: 3121 4th St.
Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Admission: Free!
Phone: 806.742.0498
Website: nrhc.ttu.edu