The Openingthewildwest Story

This kind of story includes those plots dealing with the journey of a wagon train across the continent, the construction of the railroad, telegraph line, toll road, stagecoach line, pony express route, or similar endeavour. Your hero may be the boss of the wagon train or of the construction company; opposed by reactionaries, ranchers who want more money for the use of their land, Indians, and outlaws in equal numbers. Or he may be a local rancher, a small businessman whose property is being condemned or taken away from him without proper compensation: in this case, the opponents would be those who want to force the construction ahead no matter who gets hurt. A warning: This second type of hero must have a personal stake in fighting the new construction; he may not oppose it simply for spite or because he doesn't want to see Eastern progress cut across his beloved wilderness. Few readers can sympathize with a hero, good or bad, who is against progress of any kind; and in those days, there was no ecological crisis to justify such a viewpoint. Luke Short's The Outrider is a good novel dealing with an ordinary citizen up against the corruption of mining and railroad interests.

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