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In Saddlerock, Arizona, "Senator" Rogge and cattlemen "Dynamite" Murray and Tracey Paine are trying to convince rancher Rocky Brown to sell his Wagon Wheel ranch to railroad builder George Thompson, but for some mysterious reason, Rocky refuses to sell. The Wagon Wheel ranch is small compared to the ranches of Murray and Paine, who have already agreed to sell. As a result of Rocky's stubbornness, the men building the Lamy and Yuma Railroad have been laid off. Meanwhile, in an attempt to frame Rocky for rustling, someone has been branding stolen cattle with his brand and steadily increasing his stock. Three years before, Rocky's sister Ruth inherited the ranch from her uncle, and Rocky joined her a year later. At Ruth's suggestion, Rocky contacts the Cattlemen's Association. The Association appoints agent Johnny Argyle to solve the mystery of "too much beef" at the Wagon Wheel ranch, and he goes undercover as drifter "Tucson Smith." In the town bar, Rogge, who had once served as a senator, warns Rocky against courting Murray's daughter Sheila, whom Paine, a drunkard, desires. Tucson enters the saloon and learns from a laid-off railroad worker that it will cost Thompson an extra million dollars to build the railroad through a route other than the valley that contains the Wagon Wheel ranch. Murray then enters, and Rogge tells him Rocky still refuses to sell his ranch. Tucson thinks he sees Rocky about to draw his gun and stops him, thereby winning the admiration of Rocky's enemies. Tucson investigates the brands on Rocky's acquired cattle and visits Sheila to warn her that someone is trying to frame Rocky for rustling. Tucson learns that Paine expected to marry Sheila, but Rocky changed her mind. Tucson reveals his true identity to Sheila, and she explains why Rocky cannot sell. At home, Ruth calls Rocky by his real name, "Hugh," and he becomes angry because he believes Tucson recognized him from an old rustling charge for which Tucson arrested him. Tucson visits Rocky and tells him he knows that he was framed by his childless uncle, who was angry because he refused to live with him when he found out he was abusing his wife. After Rocky served a term in prison and changed his name, his uncle was ashamed of his treatment of him and left the ranch to him. Because of the uncle's intense hatred for Paine, he included a codicil in the will that forbade Rocky ever to sell the ranch to him. Sheila had heard the story from the uncle and loved Rocky despite his unfortunate criminal record. Unaware of Tucson's intentions in the saloon earlier, Sheila visits and accuses Rocky of trying to kill her father. Rocky agrees to go with Sheila and tell Murray the truth about why he cannot sell and takes Tucson's horse, but Murray is not at home. Believing he is Rocky, someone shoots at Tucson with Rocky's stolen gun, and Tucson finds the shells. After the sheriff finds the same gun near Murray's dead body, he accuses Rocky of murder. Murray was shot three hours before, but the murder weapon was found near the body only a few minutes before Rocky's arrest. After examining pelts from Rocky's increased herd, Tucson goes south to Yuma, while Ruth remains to take notes at Rocky's inquest. Tucson discovers that Thompson's son, who has a "tire and hub" brand that can easily be mistaken for Rocky's "wagon wheel" brand, supplies his father's railroad camps with beef. Armed with this information, Tucson visits Thompson and blackmails him into revealing what he knows about Rocky's frame-up by threatening to frame Thompson's son for murder and rustling. Meanwhile, Ruth is forced to hand over the claim to the ranch to Rogge to pay for Rocky's legal fees. Back in Saddlerock, Tucson receives a crate containing a relief map that shows how the cattle bearing the fake wagon brand are transported onto Rocky's ranch from the nearby railroad camp. Tucson presents this evidence in court, then asks for a recess, during which he offers to help Paine if he will help him. Tucson has Paine load each of their guns with blanks. In court, Tucson and Paine appear to open fire; Paine collapses and, as he "dies," confesses that it was Rogge who murdered Murray to get the Wagon Wheel ranch for the railroad. He stole Rocky's gun and framed him so that he could procure the claim while Rocky was on trial. The night he was killed, Murray had planned to clear Rocky of the rustling charge. Following Tucson's stunt, Paine and Rogge are arrested. Back at the ranch, Tucson sees Sheila and Rocky kiss and asks Ruth to help him catch the "germ of love."