Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This extra-length Disney cartoon is in the tradition of the studio's earlier animated "tall tales" about Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan, utilizing a streamlined limited-animation technique with style and panache. The story opens in Westport, Kansas, where hundreds of pioneers in their wagons prepare for the long westward journey along the Oregon and Sante Fe Trails. Enter Windwagon Smith, a former sea captain who has built an odd-looking Conestoga wagon with sails. Smith believes that he can glide all the way to California if the prairie winds are with him, and Westport's Mayor Crum agrees with him, enticing the local merchants to finance Smith's invention (though they do so more out of greed than faith, hoping to speed up the journey in order to make more money). What the Mayor doesn't know is that his pretty daughter Molly, who's smitten with Smith, has stowed away on the windwagon--and there's a outsized Kansas tornado approaching. A haunting finale caps this mini-epic, which is narrated by cowboy star Rex Allen with musical backup from The Sons of the Pioneers.