One of the shows I caught a couple of times in LA was How the States got their Shapes on the History Channel – a light though entertaining unpacking of the expansion of America (which incidentally filmed its reenactments in Cape Town….) It’s kind of obvious, but I hadn’t thought of it before – but before the advent of the railroads, State borders were lined up along the courses of rivers. Once railroads changed the way the continent was crossed, rivers became irrelevant, and hence, the further west you go, the straighter the borders become. Anyway, I’m digressing only slightly, because the coming of the railroads is one of the underlying themes of my final installment of American history – Christian Bale and Russell Crowe in the Western 3-10 to Yuma.

Bale plays an impoverished farmer about to be punted off his land to make way for the railroad, who volunteers to escort a wanted criminal (Crowe) across country to catch the train of the title. It’s a rollicking good yarn – great story, great acting, well told – and though I’d seen it before several years back, it was still fresh and interesting. Another reason I enjoyed it though was the New Mexico locations. Both the towns of Bisbee and Contention were built from scratch in the New Mexico Desert – and I was lucky enough to visit The Bonanza Creek Ranch where Bisbee was built (and remains) during the AFCI’s Cineposium in 2007.