In this excellent behind-the-scenes look from Season 3, Yellowstone set decorator Carla Curry and her team “focus on the details to make #YellowstoneTV feel as real as possible,” the show’s official Instagram shares.
“This is definitely not your average TV set,” Curry herself states with a smile. From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand, to sports classic Friday Night Lights, Yellowstone fans have seen the prolific set decorator’s work all over Hollywood – even if they don’t know it.
For Paramount Network’s hit show, she was in with the first page. Curry and her husband have been ranching themselves for over 20 years now, and Taylor Sheridan would quickly become a kindred spirit. So, too, would the “soul” of Chief Joseph Ranch itself.
“We really gave the feel of the show based on the lodge we found the first season,” Curry offers within. She speaks, of course, of historic Chief Joseph Ranch in Montana.
For Curry, this incredible lodge “sort of told us what the rest of the show would look like.”
Chief Joseph Ranch: The Heart of ‘Yellowstone’
Put plainly, Chief Joseph Ranch is a “historic lodge that was built in 1914,” Curry details. “It is beautifully preserved! And so we’ve tried to make it feel like, in the Dutton world, that it had its place for generations in this family.”
As a historic site, Yellowstone‘s set designers and decorators do not and can not alter the lodge’s original state. Like they’d ever want (or need) to!
“The logs are real. The antiques are real. There’s not fake anything in here,” Curry explains. “We shoot it totally like a big ol’ feature film.”
Just as important, however, was giving the home “a feel of comfort” for the Duttons, Curry says. “This is where they could go to feel the family. The home has become almost its own character,” she smiles.
Of this, Curry feels that Chief Joseph Ranch is undeniably the “heart of the show.”
The Fascinating History of Chief Joseph Ranch
Indeed, Yellowstone centers around the Dutton’s homestead on their family-owned Yellowstone Ranch. This Yellowstone, however, is a fabrication for the show. Or, put plainly: there is no real, historic Yellowstone ranch. Instead, the Dutton’s lodge is the 5,000-square foot mansion at the center of Chief Joseph Ranch in Darby, Montana.
Chief Joseph Ranch fills in for nearly every single Dutton-centric location: mansion, cabins, barns, bunkhouse, corrals, pens, stables, woods, cemetery, and all – right beside the scenic Bitterroot River.
At the heart of it all, the lodge was originally built for William Ford in the early 1900s. Today, Chief Joseph Ranch is known for its enormous, stunning white barns – which feature prominently in Yellowstone. Those breathtaking views of Montana that surround it don’t hurt, either.
The show does add specific details to put their own stamp on the ranch. The most prominent example would be the family’s ‘Y’ brand – a mixture of two separate historical brands – that is added to the largest white barn for filming.