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Closed-captioned for the hearing impaired. "Ken Burns presents The West, a film by Stephen Ives"--Container Executive producer, Ken Burns; producers, Stephen Ives, Jody Abramson, Michael Kantor; writers, Geoffrey C. Ward, Dayton Duncan; photography, Buddy Squires, Allen Moore; editor, Richard Hankin; supervising editor, Paul Barnes; narrator, Peter Coyote; music, Matthias Gohl; consultant, Geoffrey C. Ward. Originally produced as a TV series by WETA-TV, Washington, D.C. VHS Historical TV documentary series.

After the Civil War Americans set out with a new energy and optimism to finally unite the East and the West. To do this, they embarked on one of the greatest technological achievements of the age--building the first transcontinental railroad to conquer forbidding mountains, harsh deserts and awesome distances.