Texas Tech University

National Ranching Heritage Center Hosts 38th Annual Candlelight at the Ranch

Sue Jones

December 2, 2016

Candlelight at the Ranch

Visitors can step back in time to experience a frontier Christmas Dec. 9-10.


Visitors to the National Ranching Heritage Center (NRHC) at Texas Tech University will experience a frontier Christmas from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Dec. 9-10 during the 38th Annual Candlelight at the Ranch.

Sponsored by Centennial Bank, the event will celebrate Christmas as it might have been on the open prairie from 1780 to 1950. More than 4,000 luminaries lining the paths of the historic park and more than 150 volunteer ranch hosts will dress in period clothing to recreate holiday scenes from another era.

"Christmas was an important part of family life on the plains, whether it meant stringing popcorn to decorate a tree, preparing holiday food, playing Christmas music or whittling a wooden toy," said Julie Hodges, the Helen DeVitt Jones director of education. "Visitors will see our volunteers doing whatever a family might have done in that particular structure in that day and time. We'll even have holiday travelers waiting for the train in our 1918 train depot."

Holiday scenes will be recreated in 15 structures such as an 1888 half-dugout, an 1880 XIT ranch headquarters, an 1890 one-room schoolhouse, a 1780 fortified Spanish compound and the 1909 two-story Barton House. The pathways will be wheelchair- and stroller-accessible as visitors pass cowboys camped out with their horses nearby and a cowboy brewing coffee over a chuckwagon fire.

Guests can access park trails, buy kettle corn and hear Christmas carols provided by the Lubbock High School choir. Visitors can choose in what order they see the historic structures, which lighted pathways they take and when they exit the park prior to closing.

Santa Claus will be located in the Pitchfork Pavilion until 9:30 p.m. Visitors can purchase hot cocoa, apple cider and cookies in the decorated 6666 Barn while they listen to Brazos West play Christmas music with a Texas swing.

Texas State Photographer Wyman Meinzer and Wilder Good author S.J. Dahlstrom will be at Cogdell's General Store to sell and sign copies of their new books.

The annual event is free to the public with a minimum suggested $5 donation per family. VIP tickets costing $50 (max seven people per car) are available for those seeking admission at 6 p.m. and VIP parking.

The National Ranching Heritage Center is at 3121 4th St. For additional information, call (806) 742-0498 or visit nrhc.ttu.edu.

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