Robert Mitchum and Richard Widmark reportedly did not get along with Kirk Douglas because of his tendency to usurp control of the project from Director Andrew V. McLaglen.
Lola Albright (Rebecca "Becky" Evans) nearly drowned during the river crossing scene. The wagon she was in tipped over, and she was trapped underwater when the contents of the wagon fell on her and pinned her down. When they finally got her out, she was semi-conscious and spent the night in the hospital. A day later, she returned to the set, but they used a stuntwoman to re-film the river scene. In interviews, she said she was deeply traumatized by this near-death experience.
Shortly after the first river crossing, the wagon train passes a singular spire-shaped rock formation. That is Chimney Rock, in the western part of Nebraska (Scotts Bluff County). This location is approximately six hundred west of the wagon train"s starting point of Independence, Missouri, or about a third of the way into the journey of about eighteen hundred miles. At best, a wagon train might make twenty miles per day, with the troubles of river crossings, weather, and breakdowns of wagons. But since this is a fictional story, it doesn't matter.
In 1956, Hecht-Hill-Lancaster Productions announced plans to film this movie. It was to be adapted by Clifford Odets and was to star Burt Lancaster, James Stewart, and hopefully, Gary Cooper.
In his diaries, Charlton Heston stated that he was seriously pursued for the role of Senator William J. Tadlock.
This was first announced as starring John Wayne in 1951, two years after the source novel was published.
Though often described as making his film debut in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Sam Elliott appeared, while a college student, as an extra in this movie, filmed near his hometown in Oregon.
Connie Sawyer (Mrs. McBee) and Kirk Douglas (Senator William J. Tadlock) both lived to see their 100th birthdays: Sawyer on November 27, 2012 and Douglas on December 9, 2016.
Goof, not a point of trivia: When the Indians captured Brownie Evans (Michael McGreevey), you can see they were all wearing flesh colored underwear under their loincloths.