Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Hell on Wheels by Rhonda Frankhouser

Anson Mount as Cullen Bohanen in Hell on Wheels
Okay, so I never figured myself a railroad groupie, but the Netflix series (once AMC series) Hell on Wheels, starring the brooding Anson Mount as civil engineer extraordinaire, Cullen Bohanen, has changed all that. He's everything a western romance writer could dream of in a hero; handsome, sexy, faithful, fearless, and vicious. 

Hell on Wheels is a name actually used for the mobile encampment of 'hangers on' who followed the westward expansion of the Union Pacific Railroad as they became the first Transcontinental Railroad to cross the United States in the 1860s. After a long days work, railroad workers, mercenaries, surveyors and the other necessary business folks, which consisted, in part, of freed men and Irish Catholic immigrants, could count on a stiff drink, a hand of cards, and the company of their favorite lady of the evening. That is if they weren't otherwise occupied dealing with the ever present threat of Native Americans defending their territory, the usual gunfight, and diseases which took many of their number on a regular basis.

John S. Casement - Brevet Brigadier General - 'General Jack'
Cullen Bohanen's character was loosely based on the real life of John S. Casement, Civil War hero and railroad construction connoisseur. From starting at the Michigan Central Railroad, to finishing out his career with the second route to the Pacific which reached Costa Rica in 1897, Casement boasted that he'd constructed more trackwork mileage than any other engineer in U. S. history.

Though the series boasts many things about it's main character that stretch the truth beyond the actual, John Casement's was a full and interesting life all on it's own. Brigadier General turned thrill-seeking adventurer, fighting against the elements and time to create the first true route of expansion to form the old West. Even events leading to his death are curious.

Collapsed Vendome Hotel after 7.9 earthquake
He and his wife were among many injured in the 7.9 earthquake that struck San Jose, California in 1906. Casement was pinned under a bed with three broken ribs as the Hotel Vendome collapsed. He was never to regain his full health after that incident. In 1909, he was laid to rest in Painesville, Ohio (his wife Frances' home town), at the age of 80.

Anson Mount as Cullen Bohanen

But let us get back to the brooding Mr. Bohanen in the Netflix series. Anson Mount, 47 year old American actor, born in Illinois, raised in Tennessee by his professional golfer mother, and contributing editor to Playboy father, where have you been all my life. On my next cover, that's where! Whew.

Rhonda Frankhouser is an award-winning author of western romance and contemporary fiction. Originally from sunny California, she now lives in the beautiful state of Georgia. Follow Rhonda at


Patti Sherry-Crews said...

I remember when this series was first out, but we couldn't get it. I'm so excited to see that I can now watch on Netflix. I'm going to add to my list!

Rhonda Frankhouser Books said...

It’s worth the time for sure.

Julie Lence said...

Oh, yum, Rhonda!! If this is the series I'm thinking about, I started watching it, but got bored with an episode where a girl spent almost the entire hour wandering through the fields. May have to check it out, though, just to see him, lol. Very interesting about the true RR pioneer. I had no idea a RR was made to Cost Rica back then. Thanks for sharing.

Renaissance Women said...

It was a thrilling time in our history and needed men and women of strong constitutions and dreams to make it real.

Thank you for a great post. Doris

Robin in NC said...

Girl! Don't you just love him?!?!?!?!? Oh my goodness! ;)