‘Hell on Wheels’ Rides To Another Season

 AMC renews its original Western series.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Fans of AMC's "Hell on Wheels" have an additional reason to celebrate this week.

According to Deadline, AMC has renewed "Hell on Wheels" for a second season. Although the network hasn't yet released a statement about the pickup, the second season will presumably consist of ten episodes just as the first season did.

Created by Joe and Tony Gayton, "Hell on Wheels" is set in 1865 after the Civil War while chronicling the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. Anson Mount stars as former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon; who ends up becoming the foreman of the Union Pacific Railroad construction crew while searching for the last of the Union soldiers who murdered his wife.

Rapper turned actor, Common also stars as Elam Ferguson, a freedman attempting to stand up to and overcome the harsh racism in the roaming town known as Hell on Wheels. Dominique McElligott costars as the recently widowed, Lily Bell; with "Star Trek" veteran Colm Meaney as the ruthless Thomas "Doc" Durant, Eddie Spears as Joseph Black Moon, Tom Noonan as Reverend Cole and Christopher Heyerdahl as The Swede.

"Hell on Wheels" debuted impressively with 4.4 million viewers tuning into the premiere episode last November. However, viewership has steadily eroded in subsequent weeks, with the last three episodes averaging under 3 million viewers and even dipping as low as 2.15 million. The last three episodes of "Hell on Wheels" were also shown without the benefit of a lead-in from "The Walking Dead;" which may account for some of the drop-off.

The eighth episode of "Hell on Wheels" will debut this Sunday, January 1 on AMC, with the first season finale set to air on Sunday, January 15, 2012.

What are your thoughts on the first season of "Hell on Wheels"? Can it survive without "The Walking Dead" as a lead-in? And what do you want to see happen in the season finale? Share your opinions in the comment section below!