Program 1: Mountains Ray begins his westward journey in the Appalachian Mountains where he explores how their timbered slopes fuelled the lumber industry and provided the fuel and building material for the emerging nation. Native Appalachian Barbara Woodall and lumberjack Joe Currie share their family history with him, and he gets to grips with the rare GÇ£hellbenderGÇ¥ salamander. Further west, in the high jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains, Ray goes mule trekking with modern day mountain man Stu Sorenson and he has close encounters with beaver, elk and black bear. Finally in the desert mountains of the Sierra Nevada he explores the tragic story of the Donner Party wagon train whose members allegedly turned to cannibalism to survive. His journey ends as he pans for gold with modern day gold prospector John Gurney, and explores the boom and bust story of ghost town, Bodie. Program 2: Great Plains Ray explores how this half a million square miles of flat, treeless grassland was the setting for some of the most dramatic stories of the Wild West. He joins the Blackfeet Indian Nation as they demonstrate bare-back riding skills, before a ritual buffalo hunt and sacrifice, and he learns how their ancestors were dependent upon the buffalo for their survival. He follows in the wagon ruts of the early pioneers along the Oregon Trail and hitches a ride on a prairie schooner with wagon master Kim Merchant. He discovers the stories of the early homesteaders who lived in sod-houses and farmed the wild grassland around them. At a cattle auction in Dodge City he explores the story of the railways, cow-towns and the buffalo massacre. His journey across the Great Plains ends at Moore Ranch where he joins a long-horn cattle-drive, and learns about the life and myth of one of the Wild WestGÇÖs most iconic figures, the cowboy. Program 3: Deserts RayGÇÖs journey begins in Monument Valley whose dramatic desert landscape has become synonymous with the Wild West years. He explores how plants and animals survive in this waterless climate and how the Navajo Indian people adapted to the conditions. In Tucson he meets up with desert coroners, Bruce Anderson and Robin Reineke who show him how the desert still kills people today. He discovers how this forbidding landscape was the perfect refuge for bandits and pursues the outlaw trail to Butch CassidyGÇÖs hideout at RobberGÇÖs Roost. In Tombstone he gets to grips with the myths around law-makers and lawlessness and how it flourished in the remote desert regions of the Old West. Finally he explores how the Apache adapted their warfare methods to the desert, and how the US Cavalry struggled in the hot arid landscape. His journey ends with the story of GeronimoGÇÖs surrender which marked the end of the Indian Wars, and of the Old West.
The Wild West with Ray Mears