A family saga covering several decades of Westward expansion in the nineteenth century--including the Gold Rush, the Civil War, and the building of the railroads. The movie consists of five segments, three directed by Henry Hathaway ("The Rivers", "The Plains" and "The Outlaws"), and one each by John Ford ("The Civil War") and George Marshall ("The Railroad"), with transitional sequences by the uncredited Richard Thorpe. The screenplay was written by John Gay (uncredited) and James R. Webb. Popular western author Louis L'Amour wrote a novelization of the screenplay. In 1997, How the West Was Won was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The score was listed at #25 on AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores.