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Old engineer Klondike reminisces with a river boat captain about the adventures he and mining engineer Johnny Thorn enjoyed in Haven, Alaska thirty years earlier: Klondike and Johnny travel to Haven by tugboat. When the boat's whistle scares the horse of Waterlily, Johnny jumps into the river to save the drowning Chinese man. Upon arriving in Haven, Johnny is met by Nate Carson, a gold miner who has just lost the mineral rights of a prime gold prospecting area to the new settlers. Unable to work his mine and afraid the settlers may uncover its value, Carson tries to pay Johnny to leave the area, but the engineer refuses. Later, settler Mary Sloan enlists the aid of Johnny and Klondike to drag drunken physician, Dr. Curtis, from a poker game in Carson's saloon in order to deliver a baby. After the baby is born, settler Mayme Cassidy tries to bring Johnny and Mary together, but meets with little success, as Mary's brother Ben has already had a brief run-in with Johnny. Johnny then learns from Curtis that anyone associated with Carson is immediately disliked by most of the settlers. Johnny sets up a camp, only to have Waterlily arrive with his Harvard educated son, K. Wellington Wong, who explains that his "eccentric" father believes that Johnny is now indebted to him because the engineer stopped him from "joining his ancestors." That night, Carson's men successfully set the tugboat afire, destroying the settlers' supplies in hopes that they will be forced to leave Haven and abandon their land rights. Knowing that they will need new supplies before the first snow, settler Tom Allen agrees to go alone to fetch them, while encouraging the settlers to build their cabins in preparation for the hard winter ahead. After Johnny and Klondike find Allen murdered, they interrupt Mary's surprise birthday party to tell her the news. They later find Ben murdered by his cabin, as he had earlier refused to sell his land to Carson. Unknown to anyone else, Johnny and Klondike send Curtis for the supplies, and the physician and Indian Joe shoot the rapids. Meanwhile, Johnny and his people go to work building Mary's cabin. A shootout with Carson's men soon ensues, during which Piety Smith, Carson's chief henchman, is killed. Johnny delivers the dead man's body to Carson, and warns the miner not to interfere again with the construction of Mary's cabin. Carson then breaks the news of Allen's death to the settlement, but when Mary tells them that she has sent the unreliable Curtis in his place, the settlers decide to give up and raft back up the river. Back at Mary's cabin, Waterlily discovers Carson's mine inside a waterfall, and Johnny once again saves his life, this time from the hands of Carson's men. Johnny then leads the settlers to Carson's post, where the two men fight. After Johnny defeats the crooked miner, Curtis arrives with the supplies and a marshal. Back in the present, the old Klondike tells the river boat captain that the gold mine was actually empty, and Johnny was "ruined," as he married Mary and became a "dirt farmer."