Staff discusses hauntings at Ranching Heritage Center

The Barton House is an attraction at the National Ranching Heritage Center. Some visitors to the NRHC have reported seeing ghosts in the dining room, visible through the front windows of the house.

The National Ranching Heritage Center is home to many historical structures that show how ranching has progressed from the late 18th century to now. With these old buildings, there are some paranormal stories that have developed.

According to the NRHC website, 30 of its 49 structures are between 100 and 177 years old.

Robert Tidwell, curator at the NRHC, said he has been working at the NRHC for 10 years, and in all that time, only one building has come up in paranormal talk.

This building is a two-story Victorian house called the Barton House, Tidwell said. The Barton House is the focal point of the museum’s tour.

“The Barton House is a big imposing two-story house and looks like something that comes out of a paranormal thriller,” Tidwell said.

Scott White, director of collections, exhibits and research at NRHC, said the Barton House is a West Texas landmark. Until the NRHC received the house in the 1970s, a family lived in it.

Buildings in the NRHC, including the Barton House, remain locked and visitors look through the windows to see inside, Tidwell said. A few visitors, however, saw something inside the Barton House that they reported to staff at the NRHC.

“A few years ago, we had a few visitors that just swore that when they looked in some of the windows in the front part of the building, they saw people in the dining room,” Tidwell said. “Those visitors stopped and asked staff members if they were doing something to the building and if it was open to people that day, because they saw people inside the dining room. Whether or not they did (see people), I couldn’t say.”

White said he does not believe anyone has experienced any paranormal activity in the Barton House or in any of the buildings in the NRHC. The only instance of people asking about ghosts are the few phone calls the NRHC gets at this time of the year about paranormal activity in the Barton House.

“People just think there should be stories behind it because of the way it looks,” White said. “There have never been any stories or any sightings at the house. In talking with the family, there is nothing that would cause anything to be there.”

Tidwell said people think there are instances of paranormal activity in the NRHC buildings because of how old the buildings are. He, however, has not experienced any paranormal activity in any of the buildings.

“I have never heard voices calling my name or seen furniture moving, but that’s not to say it’s outside the realm of possibility,” Tidwell said.

Tidwell said in addition to the Barton House, there have been unusual occurrences that have happened within the museum building.

“It strikes me as odd because you would think it would have to be in some kind of old building,” Tidwell said.

One instance Tidwell heard about is regarding a staff member who arrived to the museum early in the morning. As they were checking if the security cameras were working, the staff member heard footsteps behind them, Tidwell said.

The staff member thought there was someone else in the museum, but realized they were the only ones parked in the parking lot, Tidwell said.

“There have been some things that have happened here that some of our staff have reported that leaves us scratching our heads,” Tidwell said.

White said he does not believe paranormal activity has happened in the NRHC.

“There is nothing in our records that show that there has been anything that has happened in any of the buildings to cause such a belief,” White said. “We have never had an incident. There are no stories. I think it is just wishful thinking.”

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