Stories of the journeys of a wagon train as it leaves post-Civil War Missouri on its way to California through the plains, deserts and Rocky Mountains. The first treks were led by gruff, ... See full summary »
Ella Lindstrom loses her husband on the wagon train ride west from Boston. With her seven children she decides to stay the course against the wishes of Major Adams. It gets more complicated when she ...
Elizabeth McQueeny is traveling with her girls, heading to a finishing school in the West. When her real purpose becomes known, all the females want her gone but her worth to all shows itself before ...
The Shiloh Ranch in Wyoming Territory of the 1890s is owned in sequence by Judge Garth, the Grainger brothers, and Col. MacKenzie. It is the setting for a variety of stories, many more ... See full summary »
It is the 1870s in Wyoming Territory. Slim Sherman and his 14-year-old brother Andy try to hang on to their ranch after their father is shot by a land grabber. They augment their slight ... See full summary »
Stories of the journeys of a wagon train as it leaves post-Civil War Missouri on its way to California through the plains, deserts and Rocky Mountains. The first treks were led by gruff, but good-at-heart Major Seth Adams, backed up by his competent frontier scout, Flint McCullough. After Adams and McCullough, the wagon train was led by the avuncular Christopher Hale along with new scouts Duke Shannon and Cooper Smith. Many stories featured the trustworthy assistant wagonmaster Bill Hawks, grizzled old cook Charlie Wooster and a young orphan, Barnaby West. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Perhaps the quintessential show from the Golden Age of TV westerns, this series ran from 1957 to 1965 and it had a simple but compelling format. Each week it told the story of one of the travelers on an 1870's "wagon train" making its way across the American West. This format thus combined the sweeping backdrop of an ever-changing frontier with the small, personal story of a single individual.
So popular did the show become that it attracted an impressive array of "guest stars" -- Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Rhonda Fleming, Barbara Stanwyck, Leslie Nielsen, Lee Marvin, etc.
The earlier shows in the series were probably the best since they featured Ward Bond as the leader of the wagon train and Robert Horton as his scout. Ward's death in 1960 and Horton's departure in 1962 weakened the series though it maintained a respectable level of production for several more years.
While the TV westerns that arose in the Eisenhower years are now nostalgically regarded as fine "family" entertainment, it's curious that they often showed their leading actors stripped half-naked and subjected to various forms of torture. "Wagon Train" was no exception. On the 1-15-1958 episode titled "The Gabe Carswell Story," for example, a bare-chested Robert Horton is staked out spreadeagle-style under the scorching sun and left to die by a villainous "half-breed." And in the 12-13-1961 episode titled "The Traitor," Horton is stripped to the waist, tied to a wagon wheel, and whipped across his bare back. In both cases the sado-masochistic nature of these sequences is emphasized rather than muted and the exposed muscularity of the actor is openly exploited.
While Ward Bond could never be replaced, many viewers looked kindly on his successor, John McIntire. Robert Fuller, however, never quite seemed adequate as Robert Horton's replacement.
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