Cast & Crew
When Boulder Dam opens, the Southwest awaits the electrical power that will soon be available. Although Gold River, Arizona, is not scheduled for electricity yet, The Western Development Company is trying to convince people that it is, and as an inducement, is offering everyone who buys land in Gold River fifty shares in the Betsy Lee Mine. The formerly deserted town becomes the new home to dozens of victims of the swindle, who need electricity to open businesses. When local rancher Gene Autry and his men ride into town, he realizes that John Scanlon and William Brady, backers of the development company, are swindlers, but he can't convince the new arrivals. Hairdresser Helen, to whom Gene is attracted, and her friend Patsy, who is smitten with Gene's friend, Frog Milhouse, need the income from their new shop so badly that Gene resolves to help them and the others by using his own money to pay the general store owner so that the townspeople can buy on credit. When he suggests that people get their money back from Scanlon, he only succeeds in making Scanlon want him permanently out of the way. Using gold dust that his father kept from a strike in Alaska, Gene decides to "salt" the Betsy Lee and tells Frog to go to a saloon and brag to Scanlon's men that he has found a rich vein of ore. The gang then goes to the mine to see if Frog's claim is real. Gene meanwhile convinces the townspeople to try and sell the mine stock back to Scanlon. As they are ready to do so, Buddy, a young orphan left in Gene's care who doesn't know about the ruse, then rides into town and tells everyone about the gold found in the mine. The town then turns against Gene, thinking he is mixed up with Scanlon, but, when Helen discovers that Gene has been paying everyone's grocery bills, she realizes that he has been trying to help them. As reports of a gold rush spread, the town is inundated with new people, so the power company decides to bring in electricity after all. During a dance to celebrate, Scanlon and Brady decide to take another look at the mine before agreeing to Gene's new offer of buying forty-nine percent of the mine for machinery needed to work it. After killing a guard, they discover the truth, but accidentally set off a burglar alarm rigged by Frog as the electricity starts. Gene then rushes out to the Betsy Lee, and, during a gun battle, part of the mine caves in, revealing a genuine vein of gold. As Brady rushes to Scanlon to tell him to take the town's offer, Gene and Frog sneak out a back entrance and arrive just in time to stop the sale and arrange for the sheriff to arrest Scanlon and his gang.
Charles E. Ford
Boulder Dam, which opened in 1936, was renamed Hoover Dam in 1947. According to copyright records, this film marked the screen debut of Polly Jenkins and Her Plowboys. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, Lynne Roberts was replaced by Carol Hughes in the role of Helen because she had not completed her work in the Republic serial Dick Tracy in time to appear in this film. In 1943, Joe Kane directed another Western for Republic entitled The Man from Music Mountain. That film, which starred Roy Rogers, had an entirely different plot than the 1938 film. Modern sources list Hal Price, Cactus Mack, Gordon Hart, Harry Harvey, Howard Chase, Rudy Sooter, Lee Shumway, Bill Wolfe, Horace B. Carpenter, Tex Phelps, Murdock McQuarrie, Meredith McCormack, Chris Allen and Autry's horse Champion as additional cast members.