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1883 tells the origin story of how the Dutton family arrived in Montana. The family has called the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch home for more than 100 years.
John and Margaret joined a European wagon train with their children Elsa and John in hopes to start a new life. The journey across the plains proved to be a challenging one, as the caravan faced many hardships along the way.
Like the Duttons, many real-life Americans made the journey out West on wagon trains, traveling treacherous routes in search of a new home. The most famous of these routes was the Oregon Trail, which spanned over 2,000 miles.
So, what route did the Dutton family travel in 1883 on their way out West?
Originally, James, Margaret, Elsa, and John were from Tennessee. However, they experienced a life of poverty which led them to flee their home in Tennessee for a fresh start.
The Dutton family then traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, to begin their journey to a new life. James is the first to arrive in his family in Texas. Shortly after Margaret, Elsa, and John arrive.
With a scary experience and outlaws running the streets of Fort Worth, James is eager to get his family out of Texas. He finds Pinkerton Agent Shea Brennan who is leading a European immigrant wagon train to Oregon.
James decides to join the wagon train with his family in order to give them a better life. Uncertain as to what his future will hold, he packs up his family and heads West.
The journey proves to be a challenging one, as the caravan faces smallpox scares, bandits, torrential weather, ambushes, and other hardships. The vast Great Plains prove to be a harsh environment that not everyone on the wagon train survives.
Below is a basic map of the route the Dutton family took from Texas to Montana in 1883:
After leaving Fort Worth, the wagon train journeys across the Trinity River in Texas. This is the location where they set up their first camp after beginning their expedition.
The caravan continues to move north alongside the river as they travel through Texas. In the fourth episode of 1883, they finally cross the river which sadly results in many casualties.
After crossing the Trinity River, they continue their journey along eastern Texas. In episode six, the wagon train arrives at Doan’s Crossing (Modern day; Vernon, Texas) along the Texas-Oklahoma border.
The crossing consists of a small settlement nestled on the banks of the Red River. The wagon train then crosses the river, traveling through what is now Oklahoma. This area they travel through in episode seven was Commanche territory.
The next section of the Dutton family’s journey takes them through Colorado. The wagon train faces trying times as they survive a fierce storm and troublesome bandits.
Shea suggests to the immigrants that Denver, Colorado would be a good place to settle. However, James has his mind set on leading the group all the way to Oregon.
Next on the journey, the Duttons travel through Wyoming where they cross Lakota territory. While in Wyoming, the caravan faces grave injuries as Elsa as well as immigrant couple Josef and Risa are in dire need of medical help.
The caravan makes the decision to travel to Fort Casper in order to get the travelers the medical assistance they need. However, upon arriving at the fort they learn that it has been abandoned by the military.
Elsa was shot in the liver by a dirty arrow and while she survived the initial injury the wound then became infected. The doctor at the fort is unable to help Elsa and it becomes clear to her parents she won’t survive the journey to Oregon. The family then makes the decision to head to Montana.
Knowing that she doesn’t have long to live, Elsa asks to choose the place she is buried. Upon the advice from a Crow leader the family met in Montana, she chooses Paradise Valley as her final resting spot.
After burying their daughter, James and Margaret decide to stay in Montana. They establish the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch on the land where Elsa is buried. Meanwhile, the rest of the wagon train finishes the journey to Oregon.
Also read: Where is 1883 Filmed? All Filming Locations
The Oregon Trail was a 2,170-mile-long wagon trail used by pioneers throughout the 1800s. The route connected the Missouri River to the valleys of Oregon, spanning across Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.
After making their way from Texas, the wagon train sets to follow the Oregon Trail. However, Elsa’s injury and then death leads the Duttons on another path to Montana.
For the rest of the European immigrant train, they followed the Oregon Trail after Fort Casper. While some chose to stay with Shea and winter in Montana before finishing the journey, others headed straight to Oregon.
Elsa’s death proved to be fundamental in the storyline of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. If she didn’t die, the Duttons would have continued their journey to Oregon and not settled in Montana.