John McLean Media Distributor of quality television programming to USA domestic and international broadcast sattellite, cable and television stations
    The Hard Road West
(60 mins)

  [Printable Description]  [Web Site]


April 1846. The United States are just 69 years old, and two families with no experience of exploration, embark on a marathon journey into the unknown. Traveling 2,400 miles by farm wagon they cross deserts and mountains hoping to reach California in about 5 months. Instead their efforts are undermined by human error and fated by extreme weather. Ravaged by starvation two ordinary families are driven to the very edge of endeavor and endurance. 

Their journey west starts out well, and for a while feels almost pleasant with time for hunting and partying. Gradually they realise that their preparations were not so thorough as they should have been and supplies become short. They take a short cut to gain time but it ends up taking far longer than the regular route. Running late they are the last group out on the trail and reach the Sierra Nevada at the start of the worst winter for 50 years. 40 adults and 41 children are trapped in poor shelters hemmed in by 12 feet of snow.
Starvation leaves them no option but to eat mice, bark from trees and hides from the roofs of their shelters. Finally when all food is gone they have no choice but to eat the dead. Some do survive and make it to California to raise the alarm but rescue come too late for many.  
Watch a clip here (MOV file) 1 min
Widescreen Pictures 2010



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