‘Y:1883’: Will the ‘Yellowstone’ Spinoff Show How the Duttons Came to Own the Ranch?

by Suzanne Halliburton

We have questions. Will Y:1883, the spinoff prequel to Yellowstone, give us any details on how the Dutton family came to own the biggest ranch in the country?

The show’s synopsis leads us to believe we’ll find out more. It says the show will follow the ancestors of John Dutton “as they embark on a journey west through the Great Plains towards the last bastion of untamed America. “The description also says that the show is “a stark retelling of Western expansion and an intense study of one family fleeing poverty to seek a better future in America’s promised land — Montana. The last bastion of untamed America is Montana.”

Fans will get to see a full sneak peak preview tonight during the Super Bowl.

Kevin Costner stars in the show as patriarch John Dutton. But the real glistening beauty of the series is the ranch, itself. In the show, it borders Yellowstone National Park. The timeline of the real ranch would suggest it’ll layer perfectly with the prequel.

“All the exteriors of Montana — it’s just so beautiful up there,” Kevin Costner said in an interview with Vanity Fair. “On the ranch, we’re actually filming where it’s actually set. It’s almost like the most central character. You step outside and you see running horses … [show runner Taylor Sheridan] is a huge fan of authenticity he wanted us to all really understand what we were getting into.”

Settlement of Land For Yellowstone Ranch Matches Prequel Timeline

The earlier seasons of Yellowstone were filmed at about 20 locations in Montana and Utah.

But the fourth season, which will be broadcast later this year, was all filmed on one Montana ranch in Darby, Montana.  It’s called the Chief Joseph Ranch and it was first homesteaded in the 1880s. (Note how that lines up with the Y:1883 timeline). That’s when it was it was called The Shelton Ranch.

According to Chief Joseph Ranch history, the property for the fictitious Yellowstone ranch was located on lands inhabited by the Salish Tribe.

The Salish tribe originally lived on the ranch land. Explorers Lewis and Clark followed a trail used by the native tribes in the early 1800s. Seventy years later, Chief Joseph led his people across the ranchland in his flight from the U.S. Army in 1877.

The house where John Dutton lives in Yellowstone is a 6,000-square foot mansion that’s located on the real ranch, too. Ohio glass tycoon William Ford started building the mansion in 1914. When Ford bought the ranch, it was an apple orchard.

Taylor Sheridan, who created Yellowstone, is developing the prequel.

“I am excited to continue the story of Yellowstone and…to keep on expanding the family for the fans,” Sheridan said.

Yellowstone is wildly popular for a show on cable. Its season three premiere last year drew 6.5 million viewers. That made it the most-watched show on cable in two years.

Want more Outsider coverage of Yellowstone? Try this story about the theory that John Dutton doesn’t survive season four.