Day Trips: Legacy of early ranch life awaits visitors in Muleshoe

Compiled by William P. Thompson: Freedom Newspapers

The Muleshoe Heritage Center takes visitors back in time to the age of the cattle barons. The center has two early-20th-century ranch houses on-site as well as a cookhouse/bunkhouse, a small hotel from the early 1900s and even a log cabin. The main ranch house was built by legendary Texas Panhandle rancher John Janes and visitors can check out the original light fixtures and original bathtub inside the huge three-story structure.

The house has a large ballroom and visitors can examine various artifacts in the basement of the house.

Muleshoe resident Dolores Harvey takes visitors on guided tours of the buildings. Muleshoe’s original Santa Fe Railway Depot has been moved to the heritage center site to offer yet another glimpse of the past.
Visitors can also get their pictures taken in front of the world’s largest muleshoe, a 27-foot tall metal structure at the center’s entrance.

HOW TO GET THERE
From Portales follow N.M. 202 west until it changes into FM 1760. Turn right from FM 1760 onto U.S. 84. Take U.S. 84 into Muleshoe. From Clovis just take U.S. 84 all the way. A sign will appear on your left that says, “Heritage” and points the way to the heritage center’s entrance road. After turning onto the entrance road, you’ll see the huge muleshoe at the center’s entrance. It’s 37 miles from Portales to Muleshoe.

HOW WAS THE JANES RANCH HOUSE PRESERVED?
In 1984, the City of Muleshoe donated a piece of land for the rail depot and that location became the heritage center. With the help of fundraising and planning from Muleshoe High School students, the Janes ranch house was moved to the center in 1987.

A BALLROOM IN MULESHOE?
Legend has it that John Janes installed a large ballroom in the ranch house to keep his young wife happy. The Janes invited people from all over the area for big parties during the ballroom’s heyday. The Janes entertained celebrities like Will Rogers, and Russian royalty showed up to hunt wild game on the ranch.

HOURS AND FEES
Donations are accepted for admission and the center is open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The center will open on Saturdays by appointment. Call 806-272-5873 to make an appointment.