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While burying an itinerant stranger in the small western town of Calendar, Prudy Perkins, the daughter of the ineffectual mayor, spots gold in the open grave, leaps in to stake her claim, and turns the funeral into a scrambling riot. With that incident, the gold rush begins as hordes of prospectors, pioneers, and prostitutes swarm into Calendar. Since the only road in or out of town is blocked by a ranch belonging to the conniving Danby clan, old Pa Danby demands a levy of 20 percent of every gold shipment that passes through. After three of Mayor Perkins' sheriffs have been disposed of by the Danbys, an easy-going stranger, Jason McCullough, rides into town while en route to Australia. Jason agrees to accept the post of temporary sheriff because he cannot afford the inflationary prices in the boomtown. Quickly breaking up a street brawl by hosing down the participants, Jason makes Jake, a dimwitted drunk, his deputy and arrests Joe Danby for murder and slaps him in the new jail that does not yet have bars. While Jason settles down as a boarder in the Perkins' home Pa Danby plots ways to get his son out of jail. His schemes fail dismally, however, and Pa summons all the Danbys in the territory to help dispose of the troublesome Jason. But when they march into town, Jason tricks them into holding their fire until he has had time to take Joe and tie him across the town's Civil War cannon. By threatening to put his lighted cigar to the cannon's fuse, Jason forces the Danbys to drop their firearms. Boasting to Prudy that he bluffed the Danbys with an unloaded cannon, Jason lights the fuse--and demolishes Madame Orr's brothel. As Prudy falls into Jason's arms, he agrees to marry her and consents to remain on as sheriff.