outdoor historical park
The atmosphere created by the outdoor park may be the greatest attraction of the center. The park makes visitors feel they’re in a rural area in another time and place even though the massive Texas Tech campus is just over the hill.
Original plans for the historical park had earthen berms represent hilly landscapes while flat areas suggest the open range. A pathway was designed to take visitors on a chronological journey through the history of ranching beginning with the 1780 Los Corralitos and moving past the 1838 El Capote Cabin to the 1855 Dogtrot House and continuing through architectural history until the two-story Barton House brought elegance to the rangeland in the early 1900s.
It is difficult in this century to find clear recollections of frontier ranch life and even more difficult to find structural remains. Thanks to the founders of the National Ranching Heritage Center and the work they began in the late 1960s, much of the early era of ranching is preserved in the 49 authentic structures brought to the park from Texas, New Mexico and Kansas.
Dating from the late 1780s to the 1950s, all the structures but one were relocated and restored, furnished or outfitted for period correctness. Los Corralitos had to be recreated rather than relocated after the park founders discovered that the original building had been used as a sepulcher for family members who were buried under its floor. Because evidence suggests that the Zapata County building was the earliest standing ranch structure in Texas, the founders decided to recreate the building as a way of recognizing the early days of ranching when a fortified ranch home protected the family from Indians and border marauders.
The historical park was designated as “Foy Proctor Park” in 1999 to honor the late Foy Proctor, a respected West Texas rancher and the 1984 National Golden Spur Award recipient.