The ‘1883’ Crew Talk Transforming Fort Worth Into the 19th Century

The Yellowstone prequel 1883 began in Fort Worth, Texas where the Dutton family arrive to begin their journey West. In order to film the scenes in Texas, the 1883 crew had to completely transform an area of Fort Worth to match the time period. This included designing the White Elephant Saloon and the Calhoun Hotel. One of the crew’s secret ingredients was lots and lots of dirt.

Tim McGraw as James on the set designed by the 1883 crew. James stands in front of the Livery Stable.
Tim McGraw as James of the Paramount+ original series ‘1883’ | Emerson Miller/Paramount+

Here’s how the ‘1883’ crew transformed Fort Worth

1883 begins in Fort Worth, Texas, as the Duttons prepare for their journey West. In Fort Worth, they eventually join up with Shea Brennan and his group before departing. The 1883 crew transformed an area of Fort Worth back into the 1880s.

Authenticity was very important to Taylor Sheridan and the crew delivered on his vision. “It’s an amazing transformation,” said set decorator Carla Curry in a YouTube video. “And a lot went into it just to bring it to this level.”

“All of the buildings were painted appropriately and modern features were taken away.” Art director Yvonne Boudreaux added, “The whole thing tied together when we put the dirt in. It really just came alive.”

The 1883 crew also had to design the Calhoun Hotel, where James and his family stay before leaving on their journey. “We have the rooms are actually on a stage and the actual location has the lobby and a hallway,” Curry shared.

Another important set was the Livery Stable, where James first arrives in town. Inside the Livery Stable, the 1883 crew hung up harness parts and pieces, horse collars, and other supplies that would have been essential to pull a team.

The ‘1883’ crew recreated an old-fashioned saloon

One scene in 1883 takes place in the White Elephants Saloon, a bar that originally opened in the 1880s. “One of the main things that we added in here was lighting,” Curry said in the video. “We brought back the grandeur of the old saloons with the crystal chandeliers and the oil-burning lamps. We brought in our own taxidermy.”

The crew also touched up the large, beautiful bar that already existed in the building and added a few other touches. “We brought in Pharoah tables. Pharoah was a very popular game that was played back then. And we brought in a period pool table,” Curry explained. “Then we have all of our card playing tables and our basic saloon gear.”

One Fort Worth restaurant kept it’s ‘1883’ look

Hooker’s Grill, a restaurant in Stockyard, sits at the center of the road where scenes from 1883 were filmed. According to WFAA, the restaurant’s owner, Ruth Hooker, closed her business temporarily to make way for the Yellowstone prequel. Like many of the buildings in the area, Hooker’s exterior was transformed into a 19th-century saloon.

When filming ended and the restaurant reopened, Ruth decided she wanted her restaurant to keep its rustic look. The 1880s makeover is now an important part of her business. “It’s fun for the people that come,” Hooker told WFAA. “They can get a little bit of nostalgia through the building as well as the food.”

Now, 1883 fans can enjoy onion burgers and traditional Native American fry bread in one of the very spots decorated by the 1883 crew.

New episodes of 1883 release Sundays on Paramount+.

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