As the California Gold Rush begins, Jonathan Trumbo (Ray Milland) goes AWOL from the Army and decides to lead a wagon train to the West Coast. With saloon girl Lily Bishop (Barbara Stanwyck) and Irishman Michael Fabian (Barry Fitzgerald) at his side, Jonathan arrives in California. There, he finds that rich landowner Capt. Pharaoh Coffin (George Coulouris) is trying to block California from statehood. But Trumbo's never taken kindly to men in power, and he's soon dangerously at odds with Coffin.