They All Star in Texas as Jane Wilson finds out
Who shot JR Ewing? It is now 40 years on and many of us still remember the days of Dallas, the TV series. The big hair, the big money of oil and ranches and the glamour. Remember Pamela, Bobby, Miss Ellie, Cliff Barnes, and of course Sue Ellen who was intoxicated throughout. It focussed around the Ewings, an affluent and feuding Texan family who owned the independent oil company and cattle-ranching land. The city gained fame from the location of the hit primetime television series during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. And for thirteen years, weekly television viewing tuned into Dallas for 356 episodes over 14 series, from 1978 to 1991, making it one of the longest running TV programmes of its time.
Today this Lone Star State city is prosperous, vibrant and cosmopolitan. Tours highlight the key attractions; the Reunion Tower Geo-Deck for great views, Pioneer Plaza with its bronze re-creation of a longhorn steer cattle drive which celebrates the trails that brought settlers here, the tragic marked location where JF Kennedy was assassinated in Dealy Plaza and Deep Ellum the hippy, trendy side with over 30 live music venues and BBQ hangouts.
From the city of Dallas, there are daily tours to Southfork, 25 miles away in Parker to this Texas Ranch and the Ewing Mansion. The guided tour includes the ranch grounds as well as the Ewing Mansion to relive exciting moments from the series in the “Dallas Legends” exhibition which features memorabilia from the series. On display is Lucy’s Wedding Dress, Jock’s Lincoln Continental and naturally, the gun that shot J.R.
Just 33 miles from Dallas is Fort Worth, a hub for cowboy culture since its founding. Stockyards is one of Fort Worth’s most famous attractions. For over a hundred years, this has been the centre of cattle trading in the area. In the early 1900s, over a million cattle were sold at the Stockyards per year, making it the Texan equivalent to Wall Street back in the day. Today, fewer livestock auctions take place here but in the Dallas TV series, it remained true to its livelihood, with the Ewings buying and selling cattle at the Cowtown Coliseum as well as drinking in the saloons.
To this day, it remains one of the main centres for ranching and cattle herding. The historic Mule Alley is jammed with places to eat, live music and shops lined with hats, the real McCoy cowboy boots along with tasselled tee-shirts and souvenirs.
Stockyards is an attraction to many tourists due to its featured presence in the popular current TV series 1883, the prequel to the drama Yellowstone, Taylor Sheridan’s newest TV series. 1883 tells the Dutton family’s origin story. The first two episodes of the series were filmed in the Fort Worth Stockyards and surrounding areas. And The Fort Worth Herd is also featured. These cattle drives take place away from the film cameras, twice-daily along Exchange Avenue, with each team member, or drover clad in authentic period clothing to remind us of the importance of the cattle drives that took place along the Chisolm Trail.
And if we’re talkin’ cowboys, check out the museum dedicated to John Wayne, where a wall lists his many films including The Alamo, El Dorado, True Grit, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and The Desert Trail. Of course, it’s not just cowboys, you’ll find plenty of cowgirls in the city as well, especially honoured at the Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
But a visit to Fort Worth would not be complete without time in Billy Bobs to practice your line dancing. It is said to be the world’s largest honky-tonk!
And if you didn’t remember, it was JR Ewing’s mistress Kristin Shepard who shot him.
Other places in Texas to visit near Dallas:
Waco (around 100 miles)
The Mammoth National Monument features a climate-controlled dig shelter to view the bones of 23 ice-age Columbian Mammoths This is the nation’s first and only recorded discovery of a nursery herd of Pleistocene mammoths near the Bosque River – a glimpse into the long-lost world
Home to the Dr Pepper Museum, the oldest soda brand in America in a historic bottling factory with interesting memorabilia.
San Antonio (around 290 miles)
A city with a genteel Riverwalk offering boat trips reciting its rich and diverse history while passing pretty restaurants and cafes. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site which protects the living heritage of the people transformed here and the stone structure they built.
Find out more
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They have recommendations for flights, accommodation and attractions.