I absolutely love Lubbock's Ranching Heritage Center (3121 4th St), mostly because it's a beautiful and whimsical place to visit. I like to walk the grounds slowly and thoughtfully, imagining life in and around the structures on the property, in their own temporal space.

The historic structures at the NRHC have been chronologically arranged to exhibit the evolution of ranch life from the late 1700s through the mid-1900s. All the structures but one were relocated, restored, and furnished for period correctness.

I imagine a bustling train depot that smells of sweat and dust, full of men on their way to make a hard-earned living. I imagine a cool and efficient adobe home with time spent at a loom. And my favorite- the elegant Victorian home with a parlor built for guests. It's a lovely way to interact with the history of the land we call home.

And while it's always lovely, the Ranching Heritage Center is at its most exquisitely charming state around Christmas. For 44 years, RHC has celebrated "Candlelight at the Ranch", a nighttime walk-through exhibit of the historic buildings lit by candlelight, with actors celebrating Christmas inside the structures.

Holiday scenes will be recreated in 15 historic structures such as the 1838 El Capote Log Cabin, 1886 XIT Ranch headquarters, 1888 Matador Half-Dugout and 1909 Queen-Anne style Barton House. Visitors will have maps pointing the way to each structure.

The event is totally free, but RHC does suggest a $5 donation to support the center. Refreshments are available for sale. The event can get busy, as folks continue to come year after year. If you'd like a guaranteed parking space, there are VIP packages available with funds raised going to support RHC's mission.


Candlelight at the Ranch is Friday,  December 9th and Saturday, December 10th from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

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