History at Southfork began in 1978 when Lorimar Productions chose the North Texas showplace as the site for the CBS TV series Dallas. The hit series, which counted millions of viewers across the United States and in 95 countries as fans, was originally broadcast in the United States from 1978 to 1991. The series continues to be broadcast in syndication and still is in first-run status in many countries around the world. Because of the ranch's high profile on television, the beautiful white mansion, the pool, the barns and surroundings quickly became a tourist mecca.
The original owner of the ranch and his family were actually living at Southfork Ranch as the filming began. When requests for private parties began to pour in, tents were erected and a small party pavilion was built to accommodate these types of events. After years evolving as a tourist attraction, the owner opened the doors of the Ewing Mansion to the public and the expansion of the ranch as an event center began in 1985. A 63,000 square foot conference and event center was built to accommodate several thousand people for special events and functions. A rodeo arena, which was originally constructed for the filming of Dallas rodeos, began to host open competition rodeos as well as private shows.
In June of 1992, Rex Maughan, a successful Arizona businessman with extensive company operations in Texas, purchased the ranch. Maughan was a client of Southfork's, hosting events several times a year for business associates from around the world. Since Maughan's purchase, business has continued to grow. Tourists are still attracted to the nostalgia of Dallas and Southfork's unique facilities have created an internationally respected conference and event center for meeting planners.
Never envisioned to be the winner it became, Dallas was initially scripted as a non-continuing five-part drama. Airing for the first time on April 2, 1978, it ran for five consecutive Sunday nights. Ratings climbed weekly. By the fifth episode, it ranked in the top ten of the week's most-watched shows.
On the basis of these impressive numbers, CBS approved thirteen additional scripts and "Season One" officially began the next full season. The success of Dallas continued, with the show airing for 13 seasons until May of 1991. By this time, the series included 356 episodes and had become the most-watched series in the world and had spawned a successful spin-off series in Knots Landing.
In 1995 and 1997, Dallas original cast members including Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy returned to Southfork to film two reunion movies. The first reunion movie JR Returns aired in 1996 and the reunion sequel, The War of the Ewings, aired in 1998.
In the summer of 2012, Dallas again returned to Southfork Ranch for TNT's reincarnation of the series, bringing back both original cast members and new faces. The show aired for three successful seasons.