My latest story idea involves having a genius among the Utah territory Mormons discover and use uranium as nuclear fuel for steam engines. Invention in the territory zooms forward, but the society has remained relatively insulated, with only scattered wild tales emerging.
One of the Mormon inventors heads east on a religious mission in a nuclear/steam powered tank and encounters Bleeding Kansas, in the person of John Brown.
Also in the mix is Abe Lincoln who suffered a crushing depression, chucked his former life, and headed west to make a new life. In Kansas he became the leader of an abolitionist mob.
Both sides of the battle over slavery try to get access to the Mormon's inventions, but Abe has his own agenda, related to his views of the economy.
There will be plenty of bombs and blood and butchery by both sides--and some humor-- to chug and clank and rattle the story along.