Wagon Train (1957–1965)
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The Willy Moran Story 

Willy Moran, a drunk, is hired by a wagon as a driver. He is an army buddy of the Major, but is used as a fall guy by a member of the train who wants to rob it. When the battle starts, Willy uses his army skills to turn the battle.



(story and teleplay), (story and teleplay)


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Episode cast overview:
Mary Palmer
Dan Brady
Susan Palmer
Donald Randolph ...
Andrew Palmer
John Harmon ...
Ben Palmer
Bartender (as Joseph McGuinn)
Saloon Hoodlum


Major Adams runs into a former boxing champ and Civil War comrade Willy Moran in Kansas City who has become a drunk. One of wagons needs a second driver so when faced with being dropped from the wagon train, the owner hires Willy as his backup driver. Willy is befriended by Mary Palmer over the objections of her uncle and has an extended streak of sobriety. However, the man he works for in reality is part of an outlaw gang who wants to steal a load of powder and ammo on the train. The owner and his partner are forced to discredit Willy when he stumbles into their plan. Adams believes Willy has gone back to drinking but when the train is attacked Willy is sober and takes decisive action to stop the attackers. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis







Release Date:

18 September 1957 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


All wagons rotated positions in the train with the exception of the one carrying the ammo and gun powder. See more »


Major Seth Adams: Willy, you're an idiot but you're my kind of idiot.
See more »


Featured in Pioneers of Television: Westerns (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Wagons Ho
8 May 2013 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Wagon Train's first seasonal trip across the plains began with this very first episode of the show. For Ward Bond it'a a reunion of sorts from the late Civil War as he encounters Ernest Borgnine playing the title role in The Willy Moran Story.

Borgnine is a former soldier under Bond's command and he was a bare knuckle prize fight champion in the Union Army, but now he's an alcoholic. One of the relief drivers for one of the wagons doesn't make it on time and Borgnine absolutely plastered gets to go on the train.

What they don't know is his benefactor is connected with remnants of Quantrill's Raiders still operating and they're bringing a load of blasting powder on the train.

In the end Borgnine saves the train and finds a little romance with fellow pioneer Marjorie Lord, a widow with two children.

If you want to see a clean shaven Frank McGrath than you'll have a chance in this episode. Later on in the first season McGrath grew the beard he would have as long as he was playing Charlie Wooster.

A good episode, a great beginning for the Train.

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