From Family Home to Tourist Destination: The History of Southfork Ranch

The Ewing family of television’s longest-running series, Dallas, made Southfork Ranch the most famous ranch in America. Over the span of 13 years, viewers across the world tuned in for over 350 episodes. The stunning, stark white mansion with its sparkling pool and pristine grounds went from family home to tourist mecca in just a few short years.

Family Home to the Ewing Mansion

In 1970, Joe Duncan built a 6,000 square foot mansion on a 200-acre property for his family. Then in 1978, Lorimar Productions began filming Dallas. They wanted to film this new show for CBS-TV on location in North Texas, and they knew right away that this beautiful mansion built by Joe Duncan was the place to do it.

Exterior shots were filmed at the property and the Duncan family still lived on site in the early years. Although the Lorimar Production studio had built an entire mock-up of the outside of the ranch, they continued to film the exterior shots at the property through 1989. After 1989, Dallas was filmed entirely in the studio. The reunion movies, J.R. Returns and War of the Ewings, as well as the documentary, Return to Southfork, however, all came back to the ranch for filming.

From Ewing Mansion to Southfork Ranch

Throughout the unprecedented success of Dallas, the Duncan family started to receive requests to hold private parties and special events at the ranch. They set up a tent and hosted events outside while still living there. As the requests increased, the family found it difficult to try and continue to live in what was quickly becoming the leading tourist destination in the Dallas metropolitan area. In 1985, the family moved away and Southfork Ranch became solely a tourist and filming property.

The public was then allowed inside the mansion for the first time. The rodeo arena, built specifically to film the Dallas rodeos, started to host both competition rodeos and public “showdeos” for entertainment. Additionally, a 63,000 square foot event and conference center was built on the site, transforming Southfork Ranch from a fantastic tourist destination into one of the premier event facilities in Dallas.

At Southfork Ranch, we are proud of our history as the setting for one of the most-beloved series in the history of television. We are an award-winning special events venue and a one-of-kind facility with a commitment to world-class service. Whether you want to tour the mansion, hold your wedding in the Oil Baron’s Ballroom, or to simply explore the ranch trails on horseback, we invite you to visit us at one of the most renown properties in North Texas.

Contact us today at Soutfork Ranch for more information or to plan your visit.

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