Today, April 7th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1961 premiere of "A Hundred Yards Over the Rim."
Cliff Robertson makes his TZ debut in an unforgettable performance as wagon train leader Christopher Horn, crossing the territory of New Mexico circa 1847. These are not pleasant times – the train is down to three wagons, the company is short of water and provisions, his fellow companions are thinking of returning to Ohio – and, to top it off, Horn's own son is dying of what appears to be pneumonia.
Halting the train, Horn, in his signature top hat and ragged wool coat, decides to scout ahead "a hundred yards over the rim." Rifle in hand, he traverses a ridge and sees an extraordinary sight – high tension wires, a blacktop highway and what appears to be the world in 1961.
This was another terrific Rod Serling time travel episode and it's just fascinating to see Horn interact with a modest modern desert environment. It was Robertson himself who came up with his costume idea and that hat, which looks perfectly plausible for a 19th century wagon master. A nod should also be given to director Buzz Kulik and his able production team.
Note: the tractor trailer rig that nearly runs Horn down on the highway is the same tractor trailer rig that appears in "The Rip Van Winkle Caper." And keep an eye out for a pre-Gomez Addams John Astin as one of Horn's fellow settlers.
So let's raise a cold diner Coke to Christian Horn and his embattled family of pioneers who set out from Ohio to find their own personal salvation and wandered into a tiny desert sliver of The Twilight Zone.