In support of its launch of Season Four of Hell on Wheels on August 2nd, AMC has released video previewing the next installment in its acclaimed Western series. Launched in 2011 and set in the post-US Civil War years, Hell on Wheels dramatizes the westward construction of the Union Pacific transcontinental railroad. The series is filmed in Alberta.

A strong ensemble cast is led by actor Anson Mount, who plays the central figure of Cullen Bohannon, a former Confederate soldier  initially drawn to the railroad seeking revenge against a Union gang that had murdered his family during the war. As the series has progressed, Bohannon has grown more involved with the railway’s construction while concurrently negotiating a number of personal challenges. The series has explored such themes as US expansionism, race and class relations, Indigenous territorial rights, and the rights of religious communities. 

Anson Mount as Cullen Bohannon – AMC Image / (Click to Enlarge)
Anson Mount as Cullen Bohannon – AMC Image / (Click to Enlarge)

The title of the series is based on the very real mobile town that followed the Union Pacific west. Effectively a tent town, the original “Hell on Wheels” offered drinking saloons, dance hall girls, and gambling in exchange for the wages of the isolated workers. One historical character brought to life in the show is that of Thomas Durant (played by Colm Meaney), who was a key – and controversial – financial manager for the Union Pacific.

The fourth season of Hell on Wheels sees the Union Pacific in 1868 having reached what is now Cheyenne, Wyoming. Historically, its track first reached Cheyenne on November 13, 1867. The decision of the Union Pacific to make the location a division point, which meant a locomotive roundhouse and machine shops, coupled with U.S. Army declaring it would built a fort at the edge of town, led to rapid growth of the settlement. The Union Pacific would eventually connect with the eastward-building Central Pacific in May 1869 to complete the world’s first transcontinental railroad.

One of the ideas discussed in the following season preview for Hell on Wheels is what the overlay of modern civilization will mean for those who have been living effectively beyond its reach, travelling with the end of track while pursuing individual ambition.

 The following is a trailer for Season 4 (mature images):

The new season of Hell on Wheels premieres Saturday, August 2nd at 9pm (E) / 8pm (C). Season 3 of Hell on Wheels is now available on DVD and via Netflix.  For official information on the show, visit the AMC site at Hell on Wheels.

(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)

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