After the Civil War ranchers began to move west, and with plenty of wide open spaces, West Texas was a perfect place to settle.
To preserve West Texas ranching history, the National Ranching Heritage Center opened in Lubbock in 1976. The 30 acre center houses several exhibits including an old saddle shop, art, and 47 authentic ranching structures dating from the late 1870s to the 1950s. It cost around $25,000 to move each of these structures, which all come from Texas, New Mexico and Kansas.
Each year about 70,000 visitors come to learn about the history of ranching. Susie Hutson visited from Bay City. "I think that (ranching) was one of the most important parts of developing because most of the people who came out west began as ranchers and had cattle, and were an adventuresome spirit," said Hutson.
One of the main focal points at the National Ranching Heritage Center is the 6666 barn. The more than 3500 square feet barn was built in 1908 by Samuel Burk Burnett, one of the most influential and prosperous ranchers in Texas. For many years it stood as a landmark in Guthrie. Burnett's great-granddaughter gave the barn to the center and it arrived in 1981. The interior of the barn, used for special events and programs, has changed extensively since then, but the exterior remains just about the same.
The origin of the 6666 barn is actually unknown. But there is something that is known - the name had nothing to do with a card game and a winning hand of sixes, as legend suggests. Burnett first saw the brand as a teenager when he bought a herd of cattle with the 6666 brand.
Another attraction at National Ranching Heritage Center is the longhorn statues. These life size statues emulate a cattle drive. Each one cost $35,000. Ranchers purchase them so they can put their ranch's brand on the statue and have a place at the National Ranching Heritage Center forever.
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