Last Updated: January 20th, 2012
While many of the events and characters of AMC's Hell on Wheels are fictional, "Hell on Wheels" encampments were a real-life part of America's westward expansion. One of the earliest known appearances of the term "Hell on Wheels" was from newspaper editor Samuel Bowles, who used the phrase to describe the collection of gambling houses, dance halls, saloons, and brothels housed in flimsy canvas tents that accompanied the army of Union Pacific railroad workers westward.
Ever wonder what the railroad workers' encampments looked like? Click through this gallery of archival photos (provided by the University of Iowa's Levi Leonard Libraries) depicting what life building the rails was like in the 1860s.