Hell on Wheels
The phrase "Hell on Wheels" was originally used to describe the itinerant collection of flimsily assembled gambling houses, dance halls, saloons, and brothels that followed the army of Union Pacific railroad workers westward as they constructed the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1860s North America. The huge numbers of wage-earning young men working in what was a remote wilderness, far from the constraints of home, proved to be a lucrative opportunity for those with expertise at separating such men from their money. As the end of the line continually moved westward, Hell on Wheels followed along, reconstructing itself on the outskirts of each town that became, in turn, the center of activity for the Union Pacific's construction work.
In popular culture
AMC's television drama series, Hell On Wheels (which premiered in November 2011), centers on the settlement that accompanied the construction of First Transcontinental Railroad, consisting of the Union Pacific company men, surveyors, support workers, laborers, prostitutes, mercenaries, and others who make the mobile encampment their home, beginning in 1865 in Season 1 and 1869 in Season 5.
- Klein, Maury (2006) . Union Pacific: Volume I, 1862–1893. U of Minnesota press. pp. 100–101. ISBN 1452908737.
- Ambrose, Stephen E. (2000). Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 217–219. ISBN 0743210832.
- Frederic L. Paxson: The Last American Frontier. Simon Publications, 2001 (reprint), ISBN 9781931313544, p. 332 (online excerpt (Google))
- Seidman, Robert (July 28, 2011). "AMC Announces Premiere Date for 'Hell on Wheels'". TVbytheNumbers. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
- Solomon, Brian (2000). Union Pacific Railroad. Osceola, WI: MBI Publishing Co. p. 24. ISBN 0-7603-0756-3.
- "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. 2010-04-21. Archived from the original on 2010-06-09.
- Ammer, Christine (2013). "Hell on Wheels". The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms (2nd ed.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 209.
- Bowles, Samuel (1869). Our New West. Hartford Pub. Co. (Hartford, CT); J.D. Dennison (New York). p. 56. OCLC 1627933.
- Wishart, David J. (2004). Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 170–171. ISBN 9780803247871.
- "The American Experience: Transcontinental Railroad". PBS Documentary: Peoples and Events: Hell on Wheels.
- Building the Transcontinental Railroad
- Map of Union Pacific Railroad with Dates
- Photo of Helltown at Benton, WY in 1868 (now a ghost town)