Hell on Wheels: Wicked Towns Along the Union Pacific Railroad

Overview

"Kreck tells the epic story of westward expansion, from the great wagon trails, to the track layers, and those Hell on Wheels towns where the West was at its wildest. It's a story wonderfully told."—David Fridtjof Halaas, from the foreword

The Wild West was more than just cowboys. It was also the raucous and unfettered railroad settlements that lined the tracks.

Overnight settlements, better known as "Hell on Wheels," sprang up as the transcontinental railroad crossed Nebraska ...

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Overview

"Kreck tells the epic story of westward expansion, from the great wagon trails, to the track layers, and those Hell on Wheels towns where the West was at its wildest. It's a story wonderfully told."—David Fridtjof Halaas, from the foreword

The Wild West was more than just cowboys. It was also the raucous and unfettered railroad settlements that lined the tracks.

Overnight settlements, better known as "Hell on Wheels," sprang up as the transcontinental railroad crossed Nebraska and Wyoming. They brought opportunity not only for legitimate businesses but also for gamblers, land speculators, prostitutes, and thugs. Dick Kreck tells their stories along with those of the heroic individuals who managed, finally, to create permanent towns in the interior West. A thorough look at the construction of the Union Pacific railroad that is perfect for any history buff.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this thorough volume, retired Denver Post editor and columnist Kreck (Murder at the Brown Palace) recalls the great westward migration of the mid-1800s and the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, stretching from Iowa toward Oregon and California. He starts by explaining the travelers' motivations to embark on "a two-thousand-mile, months-long cross-country trudge through unknown land with unknown perils." Then, culling information from personal diaries, Kreck goes deeper into the up and downs of everyday life on audacious journey including overarching narratives of hasty burials and shallow roadside graves. Pioneers, ignorant to the threat of germs, played a noteworthy role in sweeping the cholera pandemic westward of St. Louis. Noteworthy is the way Kreck pays specific attention to contributions made by women on the frontier, who "did almost everything men did, and more." However, the book is strongest when Kreck's veers back to discussing the construction of the transcontinental railroad itself. On a whole, Kreck offers an insightful though straightforward account of his subject. (May)
From the Publisher

"Kreck's Hell on Wheels is a tour de force, whose fact-filled narrative is as lively as any television production. And he doesn't let the serious research get in the way of telling an entertaining story." —The Denver Post

"Noteworthy is the way Kreck pays specific attention to contributions made by women on the frontier, who 'did almost everything men did, and more.' However, the book is strongest when Kreck's veers back to discussing the construction of the transcontinental railroad itself." —Publishers Weekly

"With his practiced eye for Western history and the ribald, Dick Kreck has fashioned a romping account of the wicked towns that sprang up and died during the building of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s." —Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper

"Dick Kreck, a crackerjack storyteller, rail enthusiast and best-selling author, does it here again. No one has better captured those wild railroad construction camps where hard-toiling men reveled in whiskey and women galore." —Tom "Dr. Colorado" Noel

"A refreshing approach. Rather than the ordinary story, Dick Kreck reveals hardships during early methods of overland transportation and how the driving of the Golden Spike improved travel across America." —James L. Ehernberger, railroad historian, photographer, and author

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555919481
  • Publisher: Fulcrum Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/14/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 348,706
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Dick Kreck retired from The Denver Post after thirty-eight years as an editor and columnist. He previously worked at the San Francisco Examiner and the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of four other books, and lives in Denver, Colorado.
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