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Why The Year 1883 Is So Important To Yellowstone's Story

The news of a Yellowstone prequel series, entitled Y: 1883, should be exciting to fans for more than a few reasons. Not only will the new series give viewers a chance to see more of the history behind the Dutton family, but it will also unravel the origins of their ranch, given that the show is set a couple hundred years in the past. Y: 1883 may also offer fans a chance to learn more about the history of the famous region in which Yellowstone is set.

Thus far, Yellowstone has revealed social and political tensions between ranchers, the Native American population, and land developers. Since Y: 1883 is going back in time, it seems likely that we'll see how far-reaching those tensions are, and how they manifested back in the 19th century, when Yellowstone National Park was still new. 

It's natural to wonder why Y: 1883's creators chose to set the series in that specific year; it may seem a little bit random, after all. However, it's actually a year that marked a significant change for the Yellowstone area — and although it may not be immediately obvious as to how that would connect to the Dutton family's history, it definitely could offer some clues as to what we can expect from the series. Let's take a look at why the year 1883 is so important for Yellowstone.

It's all in the history of Yellowstone National Park

Thus far, the year 1883 hasn't been mentioned directly in Yellowstone. However, if you look into the timeline of Yellowstone National Park, you'll see that 1883 and the years leading up to it are especially significant.

To fully understand how important the year 1883 is to Yellowstone, we have to look back a couple of years. In 1872, the United States Congress made the historic move of establishing Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, as well as parts of Montana and Idaho. On March 1 of that year, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act, which officially cemented Yellowstone as the world's first national park. Eleven years later, in 1883, construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad reached the north boundary of Yellowstone National Park. That rail line was significant because it helped connect huge swaths of United States territories.

The north boundary of the Northern Pacific Railroad is in Montana, where Yellowstone takes place. It's also been confirmed that Y: 1883 will follow the Dutton family as they make their way to Montana to seek their fortune (via Deadline).

While there's no official word as to the exact plot details of Y: 1883, the fact that the series is set in the same year as this historical moment for the national park doesn't seem like a coincidence. We'll have to see how, and if, the Northern Pacific Railroad fits into the series — but it could be a key piece of the story as the drama unfolds.