Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Comancheria
National Ranching Heritage Center
East of Indiana on Fourth Street
P. O. Box 43200
Lubbock, TX 79409-3200
Phone: (806) 742-0498
E-mail: [email protected]
Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, l to 5 p.m.
The National Ranching Heritage Center is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
There is no admission charge, and the facility is accessible to persons with special needs.
In the mid-1850s, a wave of settlers moved into present-day Palo Pinto County, Spanish for "painted wood". Many of the front-line settlers were attracted to the area because of its open land and good grazing vegetation; James Jowell was one of these settlers. He established the Joly Ranch and began driving cattle to Kansas in 1870. On a drive in 1872, legend has it that his cabin was burned to the ground. Upon returning home, he became determined to build a house that would protect his family while he was away.
Jowell had a stonemason construct three buildings: a two story house, a cooler for food preservation and a kitchen. The National Ranching Heritage Center restored the house and the cooler, but the kitchen building was not moved. Streams located around the house often dried up in the summer months, so the family made use of a well and stored water in cisterns. The house is constructed of locally quarried limestone, juniper and imported sandstone. The buildings were made by hand. Although limestone is readily available in the area where the house was built, sandstone was brought to the site because it is easier to cut and build with.