‘1883’ Brings Economic Boost With Fans Flocking To Fort Worth Stockyards

by Lauren Boisvert

The “1883” sets at the Fort Worth Stockyards have become a magnet for locals and tourists alike. Some businesses have kept the façades from the show, like Hooker’s Grill, owned by Ruth Hooker. Her restaurant sits along West Exchange Avenue; the street was covered in dirt and used for the Fort Worth scenes in “1883.”

The sets have been broken down and the dirt cleared, but Hooker decided to keep the façade on her restaurant. Now, “1883” fans are coming from all over to visit. According to WFAA out of Fort Worth, businesses on the west side of the Fort Worth Stockyards are often neglected. But, “1883” has breathed new life into the area, bringing in the crowds.

“This set has created that magnet that I needed to draw people that were unfamiliar to West Exchange in the Stockyards,” said Hooker. “It is very surprising that a TV show can create such a buzz.”

The recent influx of “1883” fans to the Fort Worth Stockyards had created an economic boom in the area. Visit Fort Worth reports that the Fort Worth Film Commission brought nearly $300 million into the economy from 2015 to 2021. It also created about 17,000 jobs.

Mitch Whitten is the COO of Visit Fort Worth; he found that 1 in 5 visitors to Fort Worth found out about the area through a movie or TV series. “That’s a really big deal, that wasn’t happening before,” said Whitten. “’1883′ has put a new spotlight on the Stockyards.”

While it’s not confirmed if Taylor Sheridan’s expansive universe will return to Fort Worth, Whitten is optimistic. “We don’t think the ‘Yellowstone’ story and the Dutton family story has finished with Fort Worth yet,” he said.

‘1883’ Set Designers Talk Taking Fort Worth Back in Time

In February, the official “1883” Instagram page posted a behind-the-scenes video; it gave fans a look at how the production team took Fort Worth, Texas back in time to the 1880s.

“Taylor is a stickler for authenticity and so we wanted everything to be as authentic as possible,” said production designer Carry White. Set designer Carla Curry added, “When we started this project, it was written for Fort Worth in the 1880s. Taylor Sheridan, who wrote it, wanted it to be shot here. Our challenge on this one was to bring it back to the 1880s. And look – it’s a western town. And a lot went into it just to bring it to this level.”

Tim McGraw, who played James Dutton, also spoke about the reality of the Fort Worth set. He said that he liked to get to set early, get in costume, and then walk around when it was still dark. “Walk around in that world and live in that world for a while and try to feel what James would have felt,” McGraw said. “Try to feel what the immigrants and the pioneers would have felt – try to feel what Margaret would have felt – try to get into the spirit of my daughter [Elsa] and what she would have felt. I really try and spend a lot of time doing that and try to get inside Taylor’s head a little bit [in terms of] what he felt when he was writing it.”