A great show about labourers, mercenaries, prostitutes, and surveyors. Find out some unknown facts about the Western series ‘Hell on Wheels’ below!
‘Hell on Wheels‘ is a popular American period drama television series, that is set during the time of the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Written and produced by Joe Gayton and Tony Gayton, the series premiered on the cable channel AMC on 6th November 2011. ‘Hell on Wheels’ revolved around the journey of a former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon (played by Anson Mount) who travels westward to Nebraska in the 1860s to seek revenge for the death of his wife Mary Bohannon (Kassia Warshawski) by Union soldiers.
- ‘Hell on Wheels’ the filthiest Western show ever made
- ‘Hell on Wheels’ based on?
- Is ‘Hell on Wheels’ historically correct?
‘Hell on Wheels’ the filthiest Western show ever made?
Yes, possibly the filthiest Western TV series ever made, literally. In an interview with “The Hollywood Reporter”, costume designer Carol Case talked about how the essential touches on the characters’ costumes are mud, dirt, dust, and grime. She recalled how Cullen is always covered head to toe in mud. Though the costume team does not have to make fake mud. Case admitted that there was so much mud on the set that it was terrifying. In between seasons, Case and her team did clean the clothes. A lot of their break down was painted on, but it still took a while for the clothes to get that wonderful patina from the mud bog days. She never felt that the clothes looked right until they let the mud do its job as much as they could.
Even the female characters struggled to stay a step ahead of the muck and mire.
“Women would still be wearing crinolines in this time. But just walking down the streets of Cheyenne is impossible without getting the dresses dirty. We changed the undergarments so they are less cumbersome so the women can actually pick up their skirts and manoeuvre. Lots of women in the West were forced to work in fields, and they could not possibly have done that in crinolines”
‘Hell on Wheels’ based on?
‘Hell on Wheels’ is based on a camp of the same name that moved westward during the construction of the transcontinental railroad in the United States of America. The series used the building of the railroad as a backdrop for many of its stories. ‘Hell on Wheels’ ran for five seasons that was coincidentally the same time it took to build the actual transcontinental railroad.
The series shows a group of railroad men and women make their way west on the Union Pacific side of construction. Later, we also got to see how the Central Pacific overcame nature, among other difficulties, to finally join up with the Union Pacific at Promontory Summit on 10th May 1869. The television series has been closely compared to another popular western series, ‘Deadwood’.
Most parts of the series featured African-Americans, such as Elam Ferguson and Psalms Jackson, who were an essential part of the Union Pacific. Many were freed from slavery. ‘Hell on Wheels’ also featured the Irish and German immigrants who worked on the railroads. The Chinese labourers who worked for the Central Pacific were also accurately depicted. The iconic record-breaking moment of setting 10 miles of track in one day was also shown on ‘Hell on Wheels’.
A few characters such as Cullen Bohannon in the series was not based on a real person. Bohannon character was loosely based on a combination of real people in a similar position that worked on the transcontinental railroad.
Is ‘Hell on Wheels’ historically correct?
Usually, drama series do not follow historical accuracy. They are known to shift from real events for entertainment. However, ‘Hell on Wheels’ did make an attempt at showcasing historical events accurately with great writing and performances. Its portrayal of the Sherman Hill, that proved to be a big challenge for the Union Pacific Railroad in Southeast Wyoming, was represented aptly. The route had been chosen to avoid as many large mountains as possible. They preferred to build bridges rather than blast tunnels as bridges were much faster and less risky.
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