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The Long Road Home
Little House on the Prairie The Long Road Home (1974–1983)
TV Episode
  • Director:
    Michael Landon
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Blanche Hanalis,Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Cast:
    Michael Landon,Karen Grassle,Melissa Gilbert
  • Time:
  • Year:
When their grain doesn't sell for enough to see their families through the winter, Charles and Isaiah hire on with the railroad to haul a wagon-load of highly explosive nitroglycerin over a treacherous mountain road and, as their journey progresses, find themselves dealing with situations almost as volatile as the freight they so carefully carry.
Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Landon Michael Landon - Charles Ingalls
Karen Grassle Karen Grassle - Caroline Ingalls
Melissa Gilbert Melissa Gilbert - Laura Ingalls
Melissa Sue Anderson Melissa Sue Anderson - Mary Ingalls
Rachel Lindsay Greenbush Rachel Lindsay Greenbush - Carrie Ingalls (as Lindsay Sidney Greenbush)
Sidney Greenbush Sidney Greenbush - Carrie Ingalls (as Lindsay Sidney Greenbush)
Victor French Victor French - Isaiah Edwards
Richard Jaeckel Richard Jaeckel - Murphy
Louis Gossett Jr. Louis Gossett Jr. - Henry Hill (as Lou Gossett)
Bonnie Bartlett Bonnie Bartlett - Grace Snider Edwards
Radames Pera Radames Pera - John Sanderson Edwards
Brian Part Brian Part - Carl Sanderson Edwards
Kyle Richards Kyle Richards - Alicia Sanderson Edwards
John Mitchum John Mitchum - Sam Benson
Bill Quinn Bill Quinn - James Frazer

Little House on the Prairie The Long Road Home (1974–1983)

Larry Golden, who appears briefly as "Bodeen", would return to the series in the season 3, two-part finale episode Gold Country, in the larger role of Rev. Phillips. Richard Jaeckel would return to star in series eight's controversial two-part episode "Sylvia".

Looks as though the grain market wasn't what it used to be, because on their recent selling trip, Charles and Edwards couldn't get crap for cash. They were, however, pointed to the local hiring hall. Got some folks what's looking for a few helping hands on the railroad, so our heroes make their way to the hiring hall...too bad we don't have those anymore...and the man in charge had but two positions available: freight jobs over some treacherous mountain territory. The pay was good, however: $100 for the 10-day job and transportation both ways was covered. But guess what? There was a catch: their freight could consist of explosives, and not TNT. Blasting oil, extremely volatile. Sounds risky, but it was either that or Charles and Edwards' families starve through the winter. I just hope that job offers life insurance. Well, after spending the next day at home, Charles and Edwards bid their loved ones farewell, not daring to tell them what kind of work they'd be doing, and headed off to board the train to Springfield, which unfortunately began to depart without them. But running like the wind, our heroes managed to catch up, and were shown to the luxury car the railroad had reserved for them: a flat car full of supplies. They were personally ushered there by a surly conductor. Good ol' generous railroad skin flints. So after a night of freezing weather and soaking rain, the train came to a stop in the outskirts where Charles, Edwards and two other chump...er fellas, Murphy and Bodine, were picked up to be taken to the workhouse. Once there, their new boss introduces them to their new friends, blasting oil. Five gallons of the stuff, and it would only take six ounces to level the warehouse.

After hearing more about their volatile packages, Bodine pussed out. Fortunately the boss had a replacement: Henry Hill (not the goodfella), a black man, and as it turns out, Murphy's a bigot. So the next day, the explosive cavalcade moved out. The front wagon was driven by Henry, with Murphy clearing the road ahead. The second was driven by Charles, with Edwards clearing its path. Their first big obstacle was a fallen tree. Detour! With much heaving and straining, they managed to pull the wagons up the hill, bypassing the woods. Back in Walnut Grove, Caroline and Grace received letters from their husbands, confessing to just what kind of freight jobs they really took. The women were overwhelmed. I guess they neglected to mention the $5,000 life insurance policy. When she got home, Caroline lied to the girls by not reading them the whole letter and allowing them to believe their pa was just fine. Yep, he's in no danger at all. Now as if the hauling of explosive, unstable chemicals wasn't hard enough, Murphy started being difficult. He had a temper about him and he couldn't stop being racist towards Henry, who happened to know more about this job than he did. To make matters even worse, the temperature was rising, further decreasing the blasting oil's stability. The nearest well had run dry and it was a bumpy road to the next. Edwards walked in front of Charles on the wagon, picking up all the stones and debris that lay ahead. Fortunately they made it to the water hole and managed to cool off those dangerous little fireworks. Henry, Edwards and Charles took turns scrubbing up, while Murphy sat and sulked by himself. Well, it looks like smooth sailing from here on out. Wrong! Who should come by but two hold up men, looking for stuff to steal. When they realize it's blasting oil and a quick thinking Edwards juggles a bottle too close to them, the cowards take off. Well after a few more miles, they finally met the train. Now they can finally unload their wagons full of Molotov cocktails and go home. They board the passenger car, and run into the same asshole conductor who says Henry can't ride in the coach. As a result, he had to ride on the flat car. Soon he was joined by Edwards and Charles, and surprisingly Murphy too, with a ruse that he was booted for being Irish. What a team they make.

This one was pretty great. A real edge-of-your-seat adventure story. You know Charles and Edwards are going to make it out okay, but it's still intense to watch. I liked the part where Edwards scares off the bandits with a vile of blasting oil, which turned out to be some of his home-brewed whiskey. Michael Landon and Victor French were great, as always, Louis Gossett Jr. was great as Henry, it's too bad the character didn't return in later episodes. Also great was Richard Jaeckel as Murphy. We'll be seeing Richard again in Season 7's "Sylvia" as that monster Irv Hartwig. This episode has a lot of twists, turns and a few good laughs. There is a bit of restlessness during the scenes that take place back in Walnut Grove. I guess because we're in such a hurry to get back to the guys and see how their trip is going. Anyway, I definitely recommend this episode. It's really good. John Hawkins turned in a hell of a script and Michael Landon went above and beyond his directorial duties. Check it out.
Charles and Edwards thought they had it made. They had enough wheat for to take to market and make a bundle of money. The problem was: so did everyone else. Because there was so much wheat, the bottom fell out of the price and they found the wheat being bought at a price that wouldn't even begin to get their families through a winter.

For the second time, Charles has to leave home to find work. In this episode, they get pretty lucky. They find a job for the railroad - but it's a pretty dangerous job and would get a hundred dollars to haul nitro for two weeks. Back then, I guess that was a lot of money. Today, I'd croak if a dangerous job like that would yield so little!

Charles doesn't tell Caroline what he'll be hauling, and Edwards doesn't tell his family. But when they get life insurance policies to send home to their wives, they immediately realize what's going on. Then the worrying starts.

There's a sub-plot of racial discrimination in this episode. One of the freighters, a black man, is accepted by Charles and Isaiah, of course. But the other man refuses to go. The boss lets the man know his choices: either he goes with the black man (who is very nice and very forgiving) or he gets a ride back to the train and goes back home.

There are a few tense moments as the temperature gets warmer and the trail they take gets rougher. Unlike The Big Valley, the episode is pretty tame in the outcome. If you're looking for a good, exciting nitro episode watch The Big Valley. If your looking for a sweet, tender hearted "alls well that ends well" sort of episode, this is the one for you!
Yes finally the first episode to future a person of color not counting the Indians.This is also the start of a lot of little house episodes that is going to tackle the touchy subject that is Racism. This episode just touches this subject by the one man don't want to work with the black man cause he's black The one white man doesn't want to drink from the same water canister then the black guy.(You now that kind of stuff)And I think it strikes hard in the end of the episode when the black guy couldn't ride inside the train but that he must go and ride outside.Luckely he had friends like Charles and Mr Edwards.They decided to go and sit with him outside(love that moment) And of course the most memorable line form this episode; White guy:"they kicked me out too,they discovered I'm Irish" laugh out loud funny.The wheat price fell through and they only get $7 instead of $47 as useal a busshel.So Charles must get a new job he and Mr edwards find something that pays $100 but its very dangerous. a good episode and totally worth the watch give it a go.

Now continue to episode 19