Southfork - Sprawling Texas ranch on the prime
time soap opera DALLAS/CBS/1978-91. Located in rural Braddock, Texas, Southfork
was the 100,000 acre homestead of oil millionaire John Ross "Jock" Ewing (Jim
Davis) and his wife, Eleanor Southworth "Miss Ellie" Ewing (Barbara Bel Geddes).
Southfork, Home of the Ewings
Other family members included Larry Hagman as John Ross "J.R." Ewing, their
eldest son and the most unscrupulous of the lot; Linda Gray as Sue Ellen, J.R.'s
long-suffering, alcoholic wife; Tyler Banks and Omri Katz as their small son
John Ross Ewing III; Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing, the complete moral reverse of
his brother J.R.; Victoria Principal as Bobby's wife Pamela Barnes Ewing, the
daughter of Digger Barnes, the family's former arch rival; and David Aykroyd and
Ted Schackelford as Gary Ewing, the least aggressive of the Ewing brothers who
moved to Southern California with his wife, Valene (Joan Van Ark) on the
spin-off series KNOTS LANDING/CBS/1979-93.
When Jock Ewing died in South America in 1981, Miss Ellie married Clayton Farlow
(Howard Keel) who became the new patriarch of the family.
In reality, the custom built 8,500 square-foot, six-bedroom mansion used for the
series was located on a 200-acre horse and cattle ranch formerly owned by Joe R.
& Natalie Duncan who built what was to be "Southfork" in 1970 from ideas picked
up from their many visits to mansion and ranches around the country.
Now a popular tourist attractions, the Southfork Ranch and Conference Center
located at 3700 Hogge Road (Central Expressway, to Exit 30 near the suburbs of
Plano) in Parker, Texas has been called "The most famous white house west of
D.C." When location scouts for the DALLAS series saw the Duncan's white
four-post facade, the Ewing mansion was born.
As a publicity stunt, the Duncan's sold off a few of their acres to hungry
DALLAS fans who craved their own chunk of the Ewing spread. The price tag was
$25.00 a square foot. Their teenage sons sold Southfork tee-shirts out of an old
Dodge van by the property's gate and by 1981 tourists were paying $4.00 to visit
J.R.'s stomping grounds.
When the Duncan's (who were in real estate) sold their ranch, all funds from the
tourist trade were part of the deal. The new owner, Terry Trippet, who headed
the Colin Commodore Ltd. partnership charged $6.00 a pop to each of the 500,000
tourists who visited Southfork. And for a mere $2,500 a night, one could sleep
in J.R.'s upstairs bedroom and for a modest $2.00 charge one might sip tea on
the balcony or eat a $13.95 breakfast of eggs, biscuits, and gravy (Bobby's and
J.R.'s favorite dish).
Since purchasing the house from the Duncan's (who sold it because they lost
their privacy) Trippet has added a convention center, party pavilion, a rodeo
ring and gift shops. He also added a brightly painted red, white and blue oil
rig which reportedly cost $9 million dollars. The 183-foot oil rig flies both
the flags of the USA and the Lone Star State. When the rig was dedicated 1000
black, helium-filled balloons floated from the top of the rig to symbolize a
stream of gushing oil.
On January 1st, 1991, control of this popular tourist attraction was taken over
by Glenfed Financial Corporation because the owners could not come up with the
mortgage payments. In 1992, the ranch was purchased at auction for $2.6 million
by Rex Maughan, an Arizona businessman. Lorimar Pictures who produced the series
shot exterior scenes on the property about two or three months of the year.
On the finale episode of DALLAS (5/3/91), Southfork was no more...well almost.
It seemed that J.R. Ewing was contemplating suicide since his life was falling
apart. A representative of Satan in the guise of an angel, offered J.R. the
opportunity to see what the world would have been like had he not been born. He
discovered that a new brother named Jason sold off the homestead and had
Southfork leveled to make way for a huge housing development. So much for family
The 1986 TV-movie Dallas: The Early Years set in the Texas oil wildcatting days
of the 1930s told the origins of the Barnes-Ewing Feud and showed Southfork in
its early days when it was owned by Miss Ellie's father, Aaron Southworth (Hoyt
Southfork resurfaced on the reunion specials Dallas: J.R. Returns (1996) as J.R.
Ewing returns from exile to reclaim his family's oil company; and Dallas: The
War of the Ewings (1998). See also
TV CHARACTER BIOS: "Jock Ewing"
TRIVIA NOTE: In 1989, there was a CBS Sweepstakes contest called "For Love And
Money" that featured the ranch home on the drama DALLAS. Their ad read:
"Keep Up With The Ewings: Win a Texas Ranch House in the style of
Southfork or $250,000 cash." Grand Prize home was built by Perry Homes, a
leading home builder in the Dallas area.
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