‘Yellowstone’ TV Spinoff ‘1883’: Why the Year of Show Plays Important Role in Story

by Leanne Stahulak

When news broke that “Yellowstone” was getting a spin-off series, fans didn’t pay too much attention to why the name of the new series is “1883.”

Mostly, fans just focused on the fact that the story will follow the Dutton’s ancestors in their trek across the Great Plains. We’ll meet James and Margaret Dutton (played by Tim McGraw and wife Faith Hill) as well as their guide, cowboy Shea Brennan (played by real-life cowboy Sam Elliott).

The series will lay the foundation for the Dutton’s Montana ranch and the family legacy that all started with James and Margaret. But why is 1883 the year that they decided to seek their fortune in the American West?

Luckily for us, Looper did some research on the historical context of the time.

‘1883’ Directly Relates to Yellowstone National Park’s History

First, a little bit of background. The U.S. Congress established Yellowstone National Park back in 1872. While a majority of the park resides in Wyoming, bits and pieces also trickle into Montana and Idaho.

During that same year, President Ulysses S. Grant signed an executive order called the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act. This act declared Yellowstone the first national park ever and gave it certain protections.

Fast forward 11 years later to 1883. At the time, one of the most crucial transcontinental railways, the Northern Pacific Railway, was under construction. The U.S. government wanted to connect St. Paul, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington in one huge railway system.

According to Looper, its construction had just brought the railway to the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park, where it bleeds into Montana. Close, coincidentally to where the current “Yellowstone” TV show takes place.

While Looper doesn’t explicitly specify, one has to wonder whether the railroad company and national park butted heads in 1883 over where the tracks would lay down. Progress vs. preservation has been an ongoing battle ever since the Industrial Revolution. It’s unclear whether this encounter went peacefully or confrontationally, though we all know Hollywood can change the facts just slightly for dramatization’s sake.

And there’s sure to be drama. We know the first season describes the Duttons’ journey to get to Montana. But once they arrive, a historical conflict is already set up to add fuel to the flames.

When Will ‘1883’ Premiere?

Filming is rumored to begin this month, though it’ll be a while before ‘1883’ officially hits our screens. In the meantime, “Yellowstone” fans can sate their appetites for Western drama by rewatching the last three seasons before the fourth season premieres this fall.

Fans have waited for over a year for the next season to drop. Filming and production were postponed due to the pandemic, but now the show has confirmed that season four will premiere sometime this October or November. Buckle up, Outsiders.