The railroad Western TV series Hell on Wheels is set to conclude on AMC. First launched in 2011, the show has dramatized the building of the first US (and world) transcontinental railroad. Centered around the character of Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) in the post-Civil War West, Hell on Wheels has looked at both the construction of the westward-heading Union Pacific, and eastward Central Pacific, rail lines. Those two railroads met in Utah on May 10, 1869. The term “Hell on Wheels” refers to the mobile tent towns that followed the Union Pacific track workers, offering the diversions of drink, gambling, and the paid company of women.


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With a varied and strong ensemble cast, the show has examined such issues as race relations, Indigenous territorial rights, the ascendancy of women in the 19th century, and social class. At the beginning of Season 5, with a shared focus upon the Central Pacific, the contributions of Asian-American workers have also now been highlighted. The story-line of the series now moves toward the eventual joining of lines and the first transcontinental rail link.

According to the cast and producers, one of the questions the coming episodes will ask is, “Was it worth it?” This question invites both macro and micro application – macro to the changing of the American West, and micro to the journey of the individual characters. The following Yahoo-hosted clip examines that idea:

Filmed in Alberta, Canada, the 7-episode sixth season (or Season 5 – Part Two) of Hell on Wheels will debut on AMC Saturday, June 11th at 9pm EST. Following that first installment, the new eight-part docu-series The American West, produced by Robert Redford, will have its premiere. For information on the Redford series, visit the post Redford’s American West .

(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)

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