After the Civil War, thousands decide to head west in search of a new start in the unexplored American frontier. Wagon Train follows their adventures as they make the trek westward with all of the drama that ensues.
The show aired on NBC from 1957-62 and then switched networks to ABC for the remainder of its run. During the 1963-64 season Wagon Train aired for 90 minutes and in color but switched back to its original one hour black-and-white format for its final season on the air.
Despite several cast changes during its 8 year history, including its two original stars, Wagon Train continued to be one of the most popular westerns in television history, and re-runs still air regularly today on channels such as Encore, Hallmark, and TV Land.
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 (Ward Bond), backed up by his dashing frontier scout, Flint McCullough (Robert Horton). After Adams and McCullough departed, the wagon train was led by the folksy Christopher Hale (John McIntire) along with new scouts Duke Shannon (Denny Miller) and Cooper Smith (Robert Fuller). Many stories featured the trustworthy and reliable assistant wagon master Bill Hawks (Terry Wilson), grizzled old cook Charlie Wooster (Frank McGrath), and a young orphan, Barnaby West (Michael Burns).
Because of the show's high production values and quality scripts many big name Hollywood guest stars appeared on Wagon Train over the years. Charles Laughton, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Fontaine, Ernest Borgnine, Lou Costello, Claude Rains, Ann Sheridan, Linda Darnell, Don Rickles, Peter Falk, Robert Ryan, Rod Steiger, Rhonda Fleming, Jane Wyman, Lee Marvin, and Lon Chaney, Jr. are among those who took a trip west on the wagon train during the course of the show's run. The legendary John Wayne even stopped off for a memorable cameo in one episode.