Cast & Crew
In 1827 in eastern Michigan, the thriving fur trading business between whites and local Indians along the Saginaw Trail is disrupted by the steady stream of settlers. Soon, the wagon trains are under attack by local Indians and Ranger Gene Autry is sent to investigate. During one attack against arriving settlers, teenager Randy Lane is orphaned before being rescued by Gene, who pulls a lock of hair from a fleeing, blue-eyed Indian. Upon examination, Gene realizes the lock is horse-hair from a wig. Gene takes Randy to the nearby trading post, run by Jules Brissac, who feigns concern about the latest settler massacre. Unknown to the fur traders working for him, Brissac, angry over his rapidly dwindling fur trade, is in league with his partner, Miller Webb, who leads the raids against the settlers disguised as an Indian. Brissac tells his snobbish young son Phillip that he must take this action to preserve the family business. Phillip hides the truth from a wealthy and orphaned cousin he intends to wed, Flora Tourney. Anxious over Gene's presence, Brissac advises Webb he will get rid of the Ranger discretely. At the trading post, Gene meets secretly with fellow Ranger Smiley Burnette, who is traveling incognito as a fur trader. In an effort to lift Randy's spirits, Gene takes him into his confidence about his assignment and asks the boy to deliver a message to the neighboring Indian tribes requesting a council meeting the following day. That evening, under the pretext of showing Gene several valuable heirlooms, Brissac attempts to shoot Gene with antique dueling guns, but his shot goes wild. The next day Smiley reports that while the traders are disturbed by the settlers' expansion, they are not involved in the raids. While Gene shows Smiley the lock of horse-hair and reveals his suspicion that a white man is leading the raids, Webb, in Indian garb, hurls a knife at him through an open window, but misses. Webb escapes by way of a secret passage in Brissac's study that leads to his own room. Later, at the Indian council, Chief Red Bird of the Miami tribe and the chiefs of the Heron and Fox tribes declare they are not involved in the raids and are at peace with the whites. Suspecting Brissac and Webb, Gene, in a long coat and mask, sneaks into Brissac's study seeking evidence and discovers the secret passageway. After following the passage to Webb's room, Gene's search is interrupted by Webb's return, but the Ranger manages to escape unrecognized after a brief scuffle. That evening Gene explains to Randy that although the passageway implies that Webb and Brissac are working together, he needs more tangible proof. When Smiley bursts in to say that an Indian was spotted fleeing from the trading post, Gene sets out in pursuit and Randy determines to get the proof needed. He sneaks into Webb's room only to be discovered by Flora, who then offers to help. The pair find a towel and moccasin covered in Indian paint, but are stopped by Phillip, who grazes Randy with a shot from the dueling guns. Phillip flees, but is captured by Smiley and Gene, who are returning to the post. Gene then receives a message from Chief Red Bird that another wagon train of settlers is on the trail and, ordering Smiley and the trappers to guard Phillip and his father, Gene hurries out to the trail with Randy. There they discover the advancing wagon train and also spot Webb, dressed as an Indian, leading several real Delaware Indians, a tribe known for their ruthless violence. Gene stealthily battles several Indians, then descends on Webb just as he gives the attack call. As Gene and Randy struggle to prevent the assault, several traders led by Smiley arrive and break up the raid. Webb and several of his cohorts are taken into custody, but Gene worries that the Brissacs, who were locked in the fur shed, have escaped. Gene, Randy and Smiley return to the trading post, where Flora has detained the Brissacs. When Brissac pleads for Phillip, assuming complete responsibility for his son's behavior, Gene promises to help. As Gene prepares to depart with his charges, he advises Randy to accept the progress represented by the Saginaw Trail. Randy and Flora willingly remain behind to help run the trading post.
John War Eagle
Carter Dehaven Jr.
Information in the copyright records indicates that the film was released in sepia, but the print viewed was in black and white.