pioneers west to california 1930s teaching film western expansion 45004

this 1930s eastman teaching film was made by eastman kodak as part of a series of educational movies. it likely dates to before 1933, since it features a shot of the golden gate in san francisco before the construction of the golden gate bridge (14:00). the silent film (which likely had a text-based component that a teacher would read aloud while it was projected) describes the various routes that pioneers used to get from the eastern usa to california. it also shows the "modern" connecting routes that exist in both the north, central, and southern areas of the region. the film features animated maps and historic footage including of wagon trains (1:50) and buffalo herds. these scenes were likely culled from early hollywood silent westerns.

the pony express is seen at 2:40 with a rider traversing the plains on horseback, switching horses and continuing the ride west. at 3:19, "modern" transport is seen as a train leaves a station on its way west. at 3:31, the union pacific and the central pacific railroads are seen converging at promontory, connecting omaha and san francisco. the last spike monument is seen at 4:15.
the lincoln highway u.s. 30 is shown connecting omaha and salt lake and an early white passenger bus is shown on the route. the victory highway u.s. 40 to san francisco is also shown. at 5:25, a biplane is seen marking out possible routes and the air mail route. railroad service is seen at 6:30, paralleled by a modern highway.

at 6:42, the focus shifts to the rocky mountains and the railroad tunnels through them, with steam engines seen. at 7:20 the wyoming plateau is seen and at 7:37 the continental divide. the wasatch mountains are seen at 8:27 as the railroads continue their progress, through the great basin at 8:51. at 9:13 early views of salt lake city are seen, and at 9:40 the pickwick stage, an early bus line that serviced much of the western usa is seen. pickwick and its related businesses are mainly remembered today for their memorable bi-level observation-buffet and nite coaches which debuted in the mid-to-late twenties. although the coaches were designed by dwight e. austin, they would not have been possible without the financial backing of the firm’s owner, charles f. wren.

at 10:20, the great salt lake is seen and the railroad trestle that crossed it. at 10:44, salt mining operations are seen. at 10:50, copper mining is seen in nevada with power shovels digging up ore and steam engine railroads delivering ore through the sierra nevada mountains. at 12:22, a steam engine is seen headed towards the sacramento valley and its rich agricultural lands. the sorting of apples is shown. at 13:00 you will see sacramento as it looked in the 1930s, followed by san francisco and the bay. a shot at 13:19 shows steam engines aboard a railroad ferry, which was the method used to move trains across the bay at this time. market street is seen and the metropolis from the air at 13:54. at 14:00, you will see rare aerial footage of the golden gate as it looked before the golden gate bridge was constructed.

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this film is part of the periscope film llc archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the usa. entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p hd and 2k. for more information visit

pioneers west to california 1930s teaching film western expansion 45004