Cast & Crew
Hopalong Cassidy and his partner, Johnny Nelson, are hired by John Trumbull, of the Tumbling-L Ranch, to manage a cattle drive. On their way to the town of Yucca, they rescue old ranchhand Windy from drowning in Dry Creek River. Windy has been shot in the arm by two assailants who are now attempting to steal the breed bull he is bringing to the Three-J Ranch. One of the men, Saxon, is gored by the bull, and his partner leaves the scene as Hoppy, Johnny and Windy arrive. Windy takes Saxon prisoner, and asks Hoppy to tell his boss, Jim Jordan, about the incident if he should see him in Yucca. Hoppy discovers that Jordan is in the midst of a court trial with Trumbull, through which he is trying to get Trumbull's cattle off of his land so he can improve his stock. Jordan wins the case and tells Trumbull he is building a fence across his end of Black Valley, although Trumbull vows there will be no fences on the range. After the trial, Hoppy meets Trumbull, who tells him to check in with his foreman, Tom Paterson. Later, Trumbull talks with Jim's sister Sally, telling her that, although he loves her and would intend no harm to her brother, he wants her to influence her brother in his favor so his cattle can roam free. When a gun toting Paterson provokes a fight with Jim, who is unarmed, Hoppy shoots the gun out of Paterson's hand and tells him he is no longer interested in working for Trumbull. Jim offers to hire Hoppy and Johnny, and although Hoppy refuses, he accepts Jim's invitation to a home-cooked meal. Paterson returns to the Tumbling-L and informs Trumbull that Hoppy quit. Trumbull decides to go ahead with his plans to sabotage Jim's fences as he is expecting a herd of 800 rustled cattle to come through the pass and the Black Valley is the only place he can take them where they will not be checked. First, however, they sneak onto Jordan's ranch at night and take Saxon, who was working for them. One of Trumbull's men struggles with Johnny, but gets away. Hoppy then decides to accept Jim's offer of a job, and is made foreman. The next day, they send Windy to pick up fence posts, while Johnny stays at the ranch with Sally, and Jim shows Hoppy Black Valley. There, Hoppy notices that some of the cattle are neither Jordan's or Trumbull's, and suspects that Trumbull has been using the area to hold stolen cattle. Johnny leaves the ranch to get some supplies in town and discovers Windy's wagon is unattended and on fire. After dousing the wagon in the river, he returns to town, much to the relief of Windy, who thought his wagon was stolen. Windy, Johnny, Hoppy and Jim then encounter Trumbull, who is ecstatic because he believes that Sally is going to marry him and this will resolve the range problem. Johnny notices that Trumbull has flour and scratches on his face, and realizes that Trumbull may have assaulted Sally while she was alone on the ranch. They take Trumbull hostage and return to the ranch where they discover Sally, afraid but unharmed. After releasing Trumbull, he warns them that they have started a range war. Jordan's men immediately set to work putting in fence posts and stringing them with wire, while at the same time, Trumbull plots to sabotage their plans, because his cohort, Barton, will be driving through a herd of cattle in a matter of hours. Trumbull sends a group with Paterson around Jordan's men, but Paterson and his group are captured by Hoppy, Johnny and Windy, while Trumbull and his group are outgunned by Jordan's men. Trumbull tells Barton they have to turn the herd back, but Barton refuses, and stampedes the herd to make sure it passes through, indifferent to the loss of life the stampede will cause. Hoppy hears the thunder of the stampede and realizes their only chance of survival is to set off the dynamite they were going to use to blast through rock. The explosion causes enough slowing in the cattle for Hoppy and the ranchhands to turn them back, and Trumbull is trampled in the ensuing stampede. Having helped Jim through his crisis, Hoppy and Johnny return to the Bar-20, but Johnny promises Sally he will return in the fall.
The opening credits read "Clarence Mulford's Heart of the West." According to the pressbook, items from the Goldrush period were donated for use in the film by A. Brown and Irwin Welford. Lynn Gabriel made her film debut in this picture. For more information on the series, see Hop-Along Cassidy below and consult the Series Index.