Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman Wiki
Hell on Wheels
Season 4, Episode 10
Takes Place {{{takesplace}}}
Air date 9 Dec 1995
Written by Andrew Lipsitz
Directed by Alan J. Levi
Episode guide
One Touch of Nature
Fifi's First Christmas

Hell on Wheels is the tenth episode of Season 4 of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, and the seventy-sixth episode of the series.

Dr. Mike and Sully go to a railroad camp to fight a dysentery epidemic. To their surprise, they find Matthew, who has been missing for two weeks, there working the camp saloon after having given his cattle to Jon -- who is taking his family to Montana to start a new life. Still distraught over Ingrid's death, Matthew begins engaging is reckless behavior, even volunteering for a nitroglycerin blasting job that has already claimed the life of at least a dozen Chinese workers. Dr. Mike employs the help of the Reverend and Sully to talk sense into Matthew and dissuade him from taking the job -- a suicide mission -- to no avail. Sully, having lost his own wife and child, understands Matthew's desire to run away from the things and people that reminded him of his loss. He tries to reason with Matthew and the engage in a fist fight.

Ultimately, with the help of Peter, Matthew successfully completes the blasting job, narrowly escaping it's powerful blast after their suspension basket gets snagged on the rock face.

Meanwhile, Dorothy entrusts Loren to deliver $100 to a man in Manitou who is supposed to sell her a larger printing press. Instead, Loren gambles away her money on a railroad spike driving contest. She is relieved that Loren didn't give the money to the press seller after discovering the company went bankrupt, and Loren must repay her money that he lost.

At the end of the episode, Matthew gives Dr. Mike and Sully a music box that Ingrid had commissioned for their home. It plays the very first song they danced to during Olive's hurdy gurdy. They join Peter is releasing lanterns in remembrance of the dead workers and Ingrid.


  • Matthew leaves a note on the clinic door to tell them he was leaving, but didn't say where he was going after giving his cattle to Jon
  • Peter delivers the news of the epidemic
  • Paregoric for pain and cramping
  • 12 have died due to nitroglycerin explosion
  • Buddhists make lanterns and place them, lit, on water to let their loved ones go
  • Brian made a lantern for Matthew to light for Ingrid


  • Zhong Lou - nitroglycerin explosion - arm had to be amputated
  • Multiple Railroad Workers - for dysentery and nitroglycerin explosion


  • This episode uses nitroglycerin for dramatic effect, even though it was rapidly replaced in all applications by dynamite.
    • In the show timeline, dynamite already exists, because Clay Harding's men use it against Dr. Mike and Sully in the Season 1 episode Bad Water.
    • Historically, this episode would have had to take place at least before Washita. The massacre occurred on November 27, 1868. However, the Giant Powder Company of San Francisco, CA started producing dynamite on March 19, 1868.
  • Colm Meaney, who played Jake Slicker in the Pilot, starred in an AMC show also called Hell on Wheels.