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One night in 1877, Ross Haney and his friend, aged gunslinger Tom Hull, anxiously wait for Haney's partner, Vin Carter, who went to the town of Arlington to record their claim on Thousand Springs in the fertile Ruby Hills valley. After successfully filing the valuable water rights claim, Carter was shot in the back by outlaw Frank Emmett and dies after relating the incident to Haney. An infuriated Haney and Tom tell the story to Arlington's marshal, Garvey, who warns Haney that as the son of a notorious bandit, he should think carefully about associating with Tom, a known gunslinger. When Tom and Haney reach the ghost town of Silvertown, Tom, chastened by Garvey's comments, tells Haney that they must part ways so that Haney can begin his new life in Soledad, the town near Ruby Hills. As he is riding to Soledad, Haney meets Sherry Vernon, who runs a ranch with her brother Bob, and they bet on who will be the first to reach town. Haney wins, but Sherry, petulant over losing, refuses to pay him and rides away. Haney is then offered a job by Walt Payne, one of the two ranchers who have illegally run off the smaller ranchers and taken control of the valley. Haney refuses the job, although he makes it clear that he holds a grudge against Emmett, the gunman who works for Payne's rival, Chalk Reynolds. Haney then checks into the hotel owned by Westbrook "Scotty" Scott, an old friend of Carter, and tells him of Carter's murder. When Haney reveals that he knows that Scotty secretly owns the only other water source in the valley, Scotty, anxious to help Haney rid the town of the warring factions, sells it to him for one dollar. Haney then goes to the saloon and there meets Rolly Burt, an affable man who rides with Reynolds, although he is impartial about the feud. Bob enters the saloon and demands that Haney talk to Sherry, who is waiting outside. Haney refuses, but out of respect for Sherry, does not retaliate when the arrogant Bob hits him. Finally going outside, Haney meets Sherry, who apologizes for her earlier behavior by paying her debt. When Haney kisses her as payment for not hitting Bob, however, she runs off. Upon returning to the hotel, Haney meets Allan Doran, Sherry's fiancé and the foreman of her ranch, and is surprised that such a refined-looking man is working as a cattleman. Unknown to Haney, Doran is the head of a secret gang that includes Emmett and Frank Voyle, Payne's gunman, and has been inciting the feud between the two ranchers so that they will kill each other, thus allowing him to take over the valley. Doran has gained control of the Vernon ranch by blackmailing the ne'er-do-well Bob, who had killed a man in Juarez, and has used the information to pressure Sherry into agreeing to marry him. Soon after, Haney is approached by Reynolds, who offers him a job. Haney refuses, then castigates Reynolds for killing Carter's father, with whom Reynolds had worked to build up the valley area. The next day, Doran arranges for two of Payne's men to ambush Burt, who is wounded but manages to kill one of his attackers and escape to town, where Scotty and his waitress, May, hide him in the cellar. Scotty and May persuade Haney to sneak Burt out of town, but while Haney is preparing to leave, he witnesses a showdown between Payne and Reynolds, during which Voyle directly shoots both men. Payne and Reynolds' ranchhands then begin fighting until Doran pacifies them with an offer of employment. The next day, Burt tells Haney that Bob is involved with Doran. Wondering if Sherry is also part of Doran's schemes, Haney rides to her ranch, and although she has fallen in love with Haney, Sherry is still afraid to tell him about Doran's hold over Bob. Haney knocks Bob to the ground for insulting his father, then tells Sherry to make up her mind which side she is on and leaves. Doran arrives and laughingly tells Sherry that he has sent for Garvey and plans to frame Haney for murder. Doran then tells Bob that he and the rest of the men will be hiding out in Silvertown until Garvey leaves, and orders Bob to finish setting up Haney before joining them. Fulfilling his task, Bob lies to Sherry, telling her that he is through with Doran, then lets slip that Doran is hiding out in Silvertown. Sherry believes her brother and informs Haney of Doran's whereabouts, as Doran had hoped, but instead of walking into the intended ambush, Haney assembles a posse comprised of Tom, Garvey, Scotty, Burt and several other men. Although Tom is shot in the ensuing gun battle, Haney kills Doran and the rest of the outlaws are rounded up. As he dies, Tom tells Haney that his father would have been proud of his efforts to protect Soledad. Haney then meets the waiting Sherry and rides off with her.