Well, first came Yellowstone, then its prequel 1923, and just when you thought Taylor Sheridan was done, he dropped another bomb on us in December 2021 called 1883. This latest saga chronicles the trials and tribulations of the Dutton family as they escape the hardships of Texas, plagued by disease and poverty, in search of greener pastures out West. Their journey ultimately leads them to their beloved Montana and the iconic Yellowstone Ranch.
The cast is led by Isabel May as Elsa Dutton, Tim McGraw as James Dillard Dutton, and Faith Hill as Margaret Dutton. And of course, there’s the rugged cowboy himself, Sam Elliott, in the role of the cantankerous Pinkerton Agent Shea Brennan. He’s as gritty as they come in the Yellowstone universe, which is quite a statement considering Elliott’s career has been built on such characters. Now, let’s talk about the show’s backdrop.
Sheridan and his team scouted various locations to recreate the late 19th century, from the Texas Hill Country to the heartland of the United States. It was a demanding five-month shoot, and interestingly, some of the chosen locations had already played roles in both Texas and Montana’s cinematic history.
Recreating the Texas Feel of ‘1883’
Well, as the Duttons ventured farther and farther west in their journey, the production crew did the same to capture the essence of their migration. Many of the scenes set in Texas were filmed in and around the vibrant city of Fort Worth, also fondly known as Cowtown. This bustling metropolis, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, has a rich history as a cattle ranching center and boasts the famous Texas Stockyards, a must-visit destination for those craving an authentic Lone Star State experience.
While the cast and crew found themselves in Fort Worth, the heart of the action took place in the quaint town of Weatherford, just a stone’s throw west of the DFW metroplex. Here, amidst the serene landscapes, you’ll encounter the vast and authentic ranches that grace the early episodes of the show. Another suburban gem near Fort Worth was Granbury, located a short drive southwest of Cowtown and directly south of Weatherford. So, for the pivotal starting locations of the series, everything was conveniently close to Fort Worth, ensuring a swift commute for the hardworking crew.
Interestingly, some of the show’s captivating opening shots were actually filmed in downtown Fort Worth. The area around West Exchange Avenue and North Houston Street was magically transformed into a sprawling Western town that you’ll come to know as “Hell’s Half Acre” on the show.
Specific ‘1883’ Filming Locations Used around Fort Worth
Throughout the series, there are these picturesque scenes where the wagon convoy pauses to catch its breath, typically beside serene rivers where they can set up camp and quench their thirst from the water source. To bring these moments to life, the ingenious crew opted for the banks of the Brazos River, nestled within the splendid Bosque Ranch in Parker County. Interestingly, this particular piece of Texan beauty belongs to none other than the show’s creator, Taylor Sheridan himself. Parker County, situated to the west of the DFW area, encompasses the stretch of the Brazos River that gracefully winds through Sheridan’s property, and it’s all set against the backdrop of Weatherford, a town steeped in Texan pride with around 30,000 residents.
Now, here’s where the magic of filmmaking truly shines. The talented production team employed some CGI wizardry to seamlessly transplant a famous Texan landmark from Granbury into the heart of downtown Fort Worth. Picture this: Granbury’s historic Hood County Courthouse, a majestic structure lovingly preserved since its construction in the 1890s, making a grand appearance right on Fort Worth’s bustling main street. But that’s not all – to ensure an authentic 19th-century Wild West ambiance, they artfully blended in rustic buildings from the vibrant Cowtown. One such gem was the Blue Agave Saloon, cleverly transformed into the roughneck rendezvous known as The White Elephant Saloon on the show. It’s where thirsty cowhands could drop by for a hearty dose of rye whiskey, frosty beer, engage in some high-stakes poker, or perhaps partake in a spirited brawl or two.
‘1883’ Filming Spots in Granbury and Guthrie, Texas
Now, let’s delve into some of the captivating filming locations that added depth and authenticity to ‘1883.’ The Calhoun Saloon, a pivotal setting where Shea and Thomas extended their invitation to James, was masterfully brought to life at Farina’s Cafe and Wine Grapevine. Nestled on North Houston Street in the quaint downtown area of charming Granbury, this locale has since transformed into a delightful Italian eatery. Yet, it proved to be the perfect backdrop for one of the show’s crucial moments.
As the westward-bound caravan ventured further, they made a notable stop at the renowned Four Sixes Ranch, also known as the 6666 Ranch. Astute fans of the original ‘Yellowstone’ series may recognize this iconic location, as Taylor Sheridan has a penchant for capturing the essence of Guthrie, Texas. This sprawling 350,000-acre horse ranch in King County boasts some of the world’s finest equine breeds. It’s worth noting that ‘1883’ doesn’t shy away from depicting the harsh realities of life, and one of its most memorable and heartbreaking scenes, involving the loss of life, unfolded at the Four Six Ranch’s Dixon’s Creek.
For those keeping track, the majority of Episodes 7 and 8 were expertly filmed in this breathtaking region of the famous Texas panhandle, adding an extra layer of authenticity to the series.
‘1883’ Filming Spots in Montana
Now, let’s explore the climax of the Duttons’ arduous journey, which brings them to their new home in the vast and breathtaking landscape of Montana’s Big Sky Country. To capture the sweeping beauty of this majestic region, Taylor Sheridan and his dedicated crew chose the charming town of Livingston as their filming base.
The specific location, Paradise Valley near Chico Hot Springs, might sound inviting, but it presented its own set of challenges. The crew faced frigid temperatures, complete with blizzard-like conditions and freezing cold winds gusting at nearly thirty miles per hour. It was a stark contrast to the scorching scenes filmed in Texas, and it added an extra layer of complexity to the shoot.
Upon arriving in Paradise Valley, the skilled set construction teams wasted no time. They embarked on the ambitious task of creating the town that serves as the backdrop in the series. This remarkable feat involved constructing over 25 unique structures, spanning nearly 30,000 square feet. To ensure authenticity, carpenters and set designers meticulously crafted various buildings, including a bank, a saloon, a jail, a hotel, and several makeshift dwellings. It’s a testament to the dedication and attention to detail that went into bringing ‘1883’ to life.