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I have crossed the Atlantic to ride the railroads of North America with
my reliable Appletons' guide.
Published in the late 19th century, Appletons' general guide to
North America will direct me to all that's novel.
in the United States.
As I journey across this vast continent,
I'll discover how pioneers and cowboys conquered the West...
and how the railroads tied this nation together,
helping to create the global superstate of today.
Morning, sir. Ticket, please.
I'm getting off at Washington, Missouri.
Washington, Missouri, all right. Got you covered. Have a good trip.
-Thank you very much.
I'm continuing my journey west across the United States.
These tracks were used by European settlers in the 19th century.
I'll investigate how they imported their way of life
into the New World, reinvented their traditions,
and made the lawless penitent.
My journey began in St Louis, Missouri, the gateway to the West.
Following the route of the pioneers,
I'll visit Kansas City and Dodge City.
I'll encounter a surprising British legacy in Colorado Springs
before turning south to experience the Hispanic culture of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
My journey will end in Arizona,
at the dazzling natural wonder of the Grand Canyon.
Today I'm heading west,
starting at the birthplace of a rural icon in Washington, Missouri,
moving on to the very German Hermann,
and ending up in the state capital of Missouri, Jefferson City.
On this journey, I try my hand on a pipe production line...
We're on a roll now.
A little bit of finger in that one.
..discover where the outlaws of the American frontier were brought to justice...
And what they did is they hauled you all the way back to
Jefferson City, Missouri.
That's what caused us to have a population of over 5,000 people.
..and enjoy the many traditions of the Midwest's German settlers.
Eins, zwei, drei.
-Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke.
-Hoi, hoi, hoi!
My first stop will be Washington, Missouri,
which Appletons' tells me is a prosperous and handsome town.
I want to discover how the Europeans encountering an American crop found
a corny way of fulfilling their pipe dreams.
I'm travelling on the tracks of the very first railroad to operate west
of the Mississippi, the Pacific Railroad.
Following the course of the Missouri River,
it was built to connect early immigrant settlements and to promote
-Thank you very much.
The railroad arrived in Washington, Missouri,
in 1855 and helped to make this town the world capital of a very
I'm visiting the Missouri Meerschaum company to meet Marilyn Lanning.
-Thank you very much.
-Wonderful historic building.
-Oh, thank you.
This is actually the original building that we built in the
1880s and it was built specifically for the corn cob pipe factory.
In the 19th century, pipe smoking was widespread and in the rural Midwest,
where there was an abundance of corn,
farmers whittled pipes from their own crops.
In 1869, Dutch immigrant woodworker Henry Tibbe started to make pipes
for sale and, within a decade, went into mass production.
Marilyn, how does the process of making a corncob pipe begin?
Well, once the cobs get to the factory, Michael,
they're separated into size.
Then they're cut on the saw into lengths for the size pipe
that they're making.
Then they come over here to Robert and he drills the tobacco holes
in the centre.
Then after that, they'll go over and they'll be shaped by Nathan.
There's a cutter head that shapes some of them.
So, some of this roughness on the outside is going to come off.
It will. Then the plaster is applied to the outside of the cob and this
was the part of the process that was patented by Henry Tibbe back in the 1870s.
And that's what made his pipes stand out from all the other local manufacturers.
Why would you want to cover the bowl in plaster of Paris?
Well, because it would give it a smoother appearance and maybe make
the pipe last a little longer and there were those people who thought
smoking a corncob pipe was a little bit hickish,
so it would kind of make them feel like they were a little more
if they were smoking something that didn't quite look as rural.
Wow! You do those fast.
What have you got in the bowl there?
It's a white plaster.
It's almost the same type of plaster you'd use on a household wall.
Here's a cob that's natural. See how you've got all these holes?
-It fills them holes in to make it smooth,
then you sand them down and then you put the plaster in the second time.
And then sand it again, by the time it comes out here,
it's slick as glass.
Lovely. You keep going because I don't want your plaster to dry there.
Yeah, plaster will harden up on me.
In this factory, they produce, pack and ship about 5,000 pipes a
day for the home market and abroad.
May I ask you what you're doing? What part of the process is that?
This is the little black feral on the stem.
I'm putting this on the stem and then they'll put the bit into it.
Have you any idea how many of those you can do maybe in a day?
Probably a couple of thousand in an hour...
-In an hour?
-In an hour.
There's couple of thousand in a tub and I can do a tub in a
-couple of hours.
Do you mind if I have a little go at that?
-Show me how to do it.
I set it in there and line it up and hit it once to get it started.
Then I hit it the second time to level it out.
-Yes. I always do two taps because the first one,
I'm afraid it's not really level, so with the second one,
-it levels it out more.
One end is thinner than the other.
It's narrower, yeah.
So I pop that over the ring...
One tap and another tap for luck.
-That looks good.
We're on a roll now. A little bit of finger in that one.
Yeah. You'll soon be able to do 1,000.
Two taps and away to a pipe dream.
Manufactured just metres from the railroad station,
Henry Tibbe's pipes were exported across the country and the world.
Pipe connoisseurs Joe and Jim are aficionados of this icon of the Midwest.
The pipe you're holding now, is that a special pipe for you?
It's one that I use quite often.
We like to hunt and fish here in the Midwest and squirrel hunting happens
to be one of our hobbies.
Yes, relative to the rat, yes.
Tree rats, actually.
But we consider them a food source here.
And my wife cooks a fantastic squirrel in gravy
and squirrel hunting is done where you go out into the woods
before sun up, sit under a tree, usually in the fall,
and it's kind of frosty and you light it up, it warms your hand.
Keeps your trigger finger warm.
Who have been famous pipe smokers in American history?
Well, General MacArthur, I would say.
He's right up there.
He had his long-stemmed pipe designed down here for him.
And they say he used to take it when he was giving orders and he'd
use it to point. But he had a long bowl where he could probably be able
to smoke it for a couple plus hours without refilling.
I guess he was a busy man.
Throughout the 19th century,
European immigration to the United States gathered pace,
as groups from Europe fled troubles at home and were attracted to the
potential of America's new lands.
My next stop will be Hermann, Missouri, founded in 1836
by the German settlement society to be a city that was German in every particular.
And you don't have to be here for long to discover that they
certainly achieved that.
In an area of hills and river valleys, the early German settlers
began cultivating a crop that reminded them of home.
I'm meeting Jon Held, whose winery was established in 1847.
John, you have spectacular views here down over the Missouri River
and I must say, they are quite reminiscent of what you might see in
the Rhine in Germany. Is there some connection?
Oh, you bet. The early settlers to Hermann selected this area because
it reminded them of home.
When did the cultivation of vines first start here?
Right about the time the city or the town of Hermann was founded.
And then it increased in production, hitting its peak around 1878,
but by that timeframe, there were over 60 wineries
in and around the town of Hermann.
I am afraid to say that I had not thought of Missouri as being
particularly a wine-producing area.
We tend to think of California.
How important was Missouri in its heyday?
During the peak in the 1870s, it was actually...
for one year, the largest producing state in the nation.
Is that so? Are you very aware of your Germans?
Absolutely. Living in Hermann, with the strong German heritage,
as well as the wine, the German cuisine, very strong German identity.
-What about the language?
-Oh, the language died out with World War I.
An example, the town that my parents grew up in was called Potsdam.
But the day the US entered World War I, they changed the name
to Pershing, in honour of General Pershing.
The Feds really took a dim view of this town and they were
scrutinising for German sympathisers.
And that really killed that language out.
My grandparents spoke it in their home as children but then it stopped.
-Did that have an impact on wine growing?
-It helped kill it.
Because they were looked so carefully at by the Feds,
they didn't attempt to do any sacramental wines,
which a lot of wineries in California were able to survive
prohibition by making communion wine or sacramental wine.
But with the German...
Anti-German sentiment here, they didn't attempt that.
-May we move on to the vineyard?
The railroads initially boosted the Missouri wine industry,
transporting its product across America,
but when the first transcontinental railroad reached California in 1869,
the West Coast wines offered formidable competition.
Where does this grape come from?
The predominant species is Vitus aestivalis,
which is a Native American grape.
So very well adapted to this climate.
-Are you having a good year?
-Oh, it's a great year.
It's a really warm season, adequate rainfall.
I think these are going to ripen into a really great vintage.
I think I'm going to ripen in this heat.
The heritage may be of the Rhine Valley,
but the grape varieties and the resulting wines are very different
from their European counterparts.
Not least because I've been expecting a German wine to be white.
So, this is a bit of a surprise, isn't it?
Because this wine is not in any way German, right?
Not at all. This is our top wine.
It's done in a traditional big red dry style,
not what you think of as a Germanic-style wine.
Particularly from this vineyard site.
We get a lot of spicy character.
-How do we say around here...?
The population of Hermann today is still predominantly of German descent.
Traditions of the mother country are very much in evidence at the local
sausage shop, run by Mike Sloan.
So, Mike, what is this that I have here?
So that sausage is a bratwurst, it's the bacon, potato, cheddar bratwurst.
So, it's pork, seasoned spices and bacon, added cheddar,
added potatoes. So, what that means is it's a meal.
It's a meal all by itself.
-Oh, my goodness.
-All the major food groups are represented right there
-in that sausage.
-That is a very, very good sausage.
So, there must be huge demand for German sausages here.
We make 46 different flavours of sausage and bratwurst.
Are you a native of Hermann?
Yes, I am. I've lived here all my life.
-Have you any idea, you know, what proportion of this town
is German today, would call itself German?
40, 50 years ago, it was close to 100%.
Now, we have some people coming out from St Louis,
but I'd still say 80%.
What are the customs that you maintain?
Well, we have our May Festival, our Maifest,
we have the sausage festival, the Wurstfest.
We have Oktoberfest, October Festival.
Excuse me, is there any month you don't have a Fest?
A couple of months, yes.
And at the heart of any self-respecting German festival is
beer and a singsong.
# Mein Vater war ein Wandersmann
# Und mir steckt's auch im Blut
# Drum wandr' ich flott, so lang ich kann
# Und schwenke meinen Hut... #
Here we go!
# Faleri, falera, faleri
# Falera ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
# Faleri, falera
# Und schwenke meinen Hut. #
Eins, zwei, drei.
Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke. Hoi, hoi, hoi!
-Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke.
-ALL: Hoi, hoi, hoi!
It's a new day and I'm continuing westwards on the
Amtrak River Runner Route.
-Guys? May I join you for a second?
Thank you very much.
It's very nice to see a family using the train.
-Where are you headed for?
-We're going from St Louis to Kansas City.
-Do you like using the train?
It's clean, it's comfortable, you meet nice people.
-It's the best way to travel.
You sound like an advertisement for the railroads.
Actually, many Americans seem to be railroad averse.
They just get in their car.
I think if you grew up in the north-east, it's a different story.
I think your statement is correct for other parts of the country.
The Midwest, particularly, but the East Coast, that's a way of life.
Yeah. That's true, that's true. And do you know this route?
Have you travelled it before? I'm just enjoying the views of the
-Missouri River so much, aren't you?
-Very scenic, very nice.
My next stop is Jefferson City,
which Appletons' tells me is the capital of the state of Missouri.
Beautifully situated on high bluffs which overlook the Missouri River.
Named after Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence.
Third president of the United States.
The man who made the Louisiana purchase from Napoleon of France
and who set out the grid pattern for the settlement of the American West.
Ladies and gentlemen, we're arriving in Jefferson City.
Please gather your belongings, make your way to the exit doors.
Jefferson City, now arriving.
All right, folks. Be very careful here. Watch your step.
Thank you very much.
Located on the river between St Louis and Kansas City,
Jefferson City began as a midway trading post.
It's the capital of Missouri, but by no means the state's biggest city.
With a population of just over 40,000, it has a quiet, small-town feel.
Every state in the union has a capital city and a centre of government,
generally known as the capital, and in nearly every case,
dominated by a dome.
This one in Jefferson City, Missouri, has a sort of grey austere
elegance about it.
Inside, I'm hoping to find something a little earthier.
My Appletons' gives the reader detailed descriptions of American
towns and cities but in the days before guidebooks,
people in the east struggled to get an image of the new western lands.
I'm here to meet art historian Joan Stack
to find out about a famous frontier painter and Missouri
politician, George Caleb Bingham.
Why is George Caleb Bingham significant?
Well, he was an early artist who painted the West and he didn't just
paint Native Americans and buffalo,
he painted the people who worked in the West.
And when people saw these images in the east,
they began to really realise, perhaps, the potential of the West.
Painting primarily in the 1840s and 50s, Bingham was the first artist to
bring realistic images of the West into the drawing rooms of the rich
and influential in New York.
Well, not what I expected as images of the Wild West.
Tell me about this image.
This is the picture that made George Caleb Bingham famous.
And the picture was called The Jolly Flatboatman.
The interesting thing is that you see the type of person that was in
Missouri at that time.
We see a kind of a group of young immigrants, Young Americans,
who represent the potential of the United States.
And then this would be an oil painting of his, would it?
Yes. This is a painting called Watching The Cargo, painted in 1849,
that was displayed in New York.
It appears at first to be this beautiful landscape with this
beautiful evening sky, but if you look closely,
you'll see there is a wrecked steamboat in the painting,
so they're protecting the commercial goods because the river is dangerous.
And Bingham was a member of the Whig party,
which supported the idea of improving the rivers,
of making them more safe to navigate.
How different is Bingham's art from what other people are painting in
-Well, most of the artists who are painting the West are taking
advantage of the romanticism around the Native Americans,
the exotic animals like the buffalo, but to many people,
that is the West that is disappearing.
There was also a West that was growing and those are the river
men, those are the people that are working the rivers,
making America a united country, uniting the East with the West,
creating this commercial world, this economic world,
that had a great deal of potential.
Remaining in Jefferson City, and led by my guidebook,
I find myself outside the imposing walls of an enormous fortified building.
Jefferson City's State penitentiary, says Appletons',
is massive and spacious.
Evidently, so it is.
I'm just asking myself why such a small town would need such a huge jail.
This intimidating structure was opened in 1836 and was operational
for 168 years, until it closed in 2004.
I'm meeting Mike Gruce, a former warden.
Mike, the interior of the prison confirms its size.
Why so big in Jefferson City?
This prison should've housed around 1,000 inmates -
that's what a state our size would have housed.
But what happened is we're located at the stepping off point to the frontier.
We were the furthest west prison in the United States for a
number of years. Those people going west, they're concerned about not
being killed by an Indian or eaten by a bear.
Not building a prison.
And if you are a person that went west, let's say on a wagon train,
and you ended up in Colorado and you robbed your mining partner out there
or something, what did they do with you?
There were no prisons.
What they did is actually hauled you all the way back to Jefferson City, Missouri.
That's what caused us to have a population of over 5,000 people
here at this prison.
As the last bastion of law, this prison serve the entire
Wild West and serious and violent criminals from beyond the frontier
were brought here by local sheriffs or bounty hunters.
Must have been pretty crowded.
It was certainly crowded and with six people per cell,
you have to consider in those days there was no plumbing,
there was no electricity, there was no heat.
And in this particular case as well, they didn't even give them a bed.
They simply gave them a straw-filled mattress and they slept on the floor.
What was the daily routine of the prisoner?
The primary job was building the prison.
Each of those millions of rock it took to build these buildings in
this wall, each of those have been cut out off the ground by an
inmate and hand shaped.
So this was a massive construction project to build their own prison.
The regime was harsh - silence at all times, solitary confinement during
the evening, and hard labour during the day.
The large, cheap workforce was readily exploited by local businesses.
They were put to work manufacturing things that were needed by the
people in Missouri and the people settling in the West.
We supplied a large portion of the harness for horses that pulled those
wagons west, in Westward expansion.
We found the records for saddle trees,
which is the piece under a Western saddle.
We were producing 60,000 of those a year here.
So a significant portion of what the settlers in the early West needed
were made here at this prison.
How were the raw materials imported into the prison?
How was the product exported?
In the early years, it was brought in on a wagon behind a team of
horses or mules. But that wasn't sufficient.
With 5,000 people, you need a lot of raw materials.
And what happened here is eventually we had to bring it in by train and
they put a rail spur actually into the prison that they hauled in the
leather goods and the steel and the items that we needed for manufacture.
Whilst the inmates made goods for the Pioneers, the railroads forged
West, carving out routes for trade and new settlement.
While migrants clung to cherished customs, in these harsh new lands,
they had to adapt and work hard.
German settlers were attracted to Missouri because it reminded them of
the Rhine and today there is still a German community enjoying sausages.
But the wine they produce is not German.
It's made from an indigenous American grape, and that could be a metaphor -
no matter how much those of European origin value their traditions,
they've been thoroughly absorbed into the American mosaic.
Next time, I'll discover the hidden pleasures of 19th-century railroad workers...
One of the St Louis newspapers referred to the city
as the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Midwest.
..confront the brutal hardships faced by the early pioneers...
400,000 people made that journey.
They claim at least 9% died along the way.
..and find out with freight on the rails it's all about size.
So let's say the average length of a car is 20 yards,
you've got 100 cars, that is more than a mile.