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Utah Wagon Train

Utah Wagon Train(1951)

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In Sonora, Utah, Sam Sickle telegrams his nephew, rancher Rex Allen, for help, but is found dead after Rex and his friend, Snooper Trent, arrive. The sheriff tells Rex that seventy-year-old Sarah Wendover hired Sam to lead descendants of the pioneer Wendover Party on a wagon train to California to recreate their ancestors' journey on the Colorado Trail but was murdered before the journey got underway. Hoping to find Sam's killer, Rex agrees to take his place as trail boss and immediately becomes suspicious of two local ranchhands, Hank Driscoll and Pete Millan. Believing that the killer is on the wagon train, Rex takes possession of all the participants' firearms, which is fine with Sarah and her granddaughter, Nancy Bonner, but offends the two couples on the trip, Robert and Belle Hatfield and Jess and Emily Sutton. To settle the matter, Rex must fight Hatfield. Just before they depart, Red Bancroft shows up, claiming to be a Wendover Party descendant, and as he has no wagon, Sarah lets him ride with her. Shortly into the trip, passing stranger Jack Scully approaches them with a story about his horse breaking a leg, and is allowed to hitch a ride with the group. That evening, Bancroft rallies the party to complain about the confiscated guns, so Sarah compromises by taking all the weapons, including Rex's and Snooper's, in her wagon. After the group settles for the night, Rex climbs a nearby telephone pole, and with a handset secretly borrowed from a telephone lineman, calls the National Library of American History in Salt Lake City just before closing time and learns that the religious Wendover group was involved in the Gold Rush. Meanwhile, Scully knocks out Snooper and climbs the pole, but when Rex fights him, he falls to the ground. As Scully dies slowly from a broken neck, too far to get help in time, Rex realizes that he killed Sam and urges him to name his boss, but a gunshot finishes the man before he can talk. The shot awakens the other campers, and Bancroft, who has behaved suspiciously, suggests that Rex has staged everything. Sarah intervenes, and realizing that Rex and Snooper need to be given the authority to do their job properly, decrees that they will again supervise the guns. The next day, Rex gets Nancy to admit the real reason for the trip: The original Wendover Party found half a million dollars in gold in California, but were attacked by Indians on their return to Utah. The lone survivor, Jonathan Wendover, hid the gold in a cave and then died before it could be retrieved. Nancy says Sarah found his map in a Bible, and as the pioneers planned to use the gold for the good of the community, Sarah has decided to recover it and start a boys ranch. She tells Rex that her father, Cyrus Bonner, has already proceeded to the site with supplies, and plans to meet them at the ghost town of Fort Hale. However, when they arrive, they discover Cyrus is being tortured by Millan and Driscoll, who then try to escape with him as hostage. Rex and Snooper capture the outlaws in a gunfight, and lock them in a storage room, but during the night, Hatfield starts a fire and frees Millan and Driscoll, ordering them to follow the wagons. The next day, the party finds the gold and loads it on the wagons. Although Rex has tried to prepare for the outlaws' next move, Hatfield and his wife Belle, with Millan and Driscoll, take all of the horses, the gold-laden wagons, and Nancy as hostage, and leave the rest of the group stranded. As the outlaws ride away, Rex's horse Koko frees himself and returns to Rex, who then takes a shortcut that puts him ahead of the outlaws. He jumps into the last wagon, which is carrying Millan and Nancy, knocks out Millan, and sends Nancy back to Snooper with guns and a horse. When Snooper catches up with Rex, they take another shortcut and ambush the outlaws. Hatfield and Belle are subdued, but Millan and Driscoll escape. Rex chases them, and after Rex shoots Millan, Driscoll tries to climb the rocks on foot, but Rex uses his lasso to climb higher than Driscoll and captures the outlaw from above. Later, when the wagons are returned to the party, the grateful Sarah promises that Rex can have a job at the boys ranch any time he needs it.