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In the 1800s, in Oklahoma, Marshal Rex Allen of the town of Paxton anticipates added work after oil is reported on rancher Frank Barlow's land and hires Slim Pickens as his deputy. Slim's first duty is to help Rex deliver $25,000 of stockholder money from the Barlow Oil Company's vault to the new, not-yet-opened bank building. While they are inside the bank, outlaws appear and lock Rex, Slim, Barlow and the banker, Benjamin Willoughby, in the bank's vault, before riding off with the money. Willoughby is able to open the vault from the inside, and Rex, Slim and Barlow pursue the outlaws. In open country, they spread out and Rex and Slim continue the search. However, Barlow, who has masterminded the robbery with the owner of the town's shooting gallery, Case Lockwood, secretly rides out to meet the outlaws. He instructs his henchmen to chase Rex down and shoot him, but Rex escapes their ambush and trails one of them to a barn used by the oil company. Rex tries to arrest the man, but Barlow shows up and, while trying to shoot Rex in the back, inadvertently kills his cohort. In self-defense, Rex returns fire and shoots Barlow. As he dies, Barlow confesses to stealing the money his neighbors have invested in his oil well. He begs Rex not to disillusion his son Ned, a geology student in college, by telling him the truth about his father. Then, before revealing the name of his partner or the location of the money, Barlow dies. Rex decides to keep Barlow's treachery to himself, so the town mourns Barlow as a hero. However, the loss of the money is a blow to them, as now there are no funds to drill or pay the oil crew. When Ned returns from college, he vows to find his father's killer, but manages to raise more money to continue drilling. Although mystified by Rex's reluctance to discuss the search for Barlow's killer, Ned continues to press Rex for information about the investigation. Meanwhile, Case and his henchman, Link Howard, who are pleased to have fewer accomplices with whom they have to share the wealth, scheme to sabotage the drilling and bankrupt the company. When the outlaws attack Rex and Slim outside of town, the marshals capture Link and try to get useful information from him, but he will only say that Barlow, who was in charge, knew there was no oil on the property. Leaving Link under Slim's guard, Rex tries to warn Ned privately that there is no oil, but just then, the well gushes. Taking advantage of the distraction, Link escapes, and Rex is prevented from chasing after him by Ned, who is offended by Rex's implication that his father was a swindler. Case, after learning about the oil, schemes to get rid of Ned and take over the company. Later, while Ned and his sweetheart, Peggy Taylor, are taking inventory of supplies being stored in a cave, Case sends a henchman in to set lines to dynamite the area. Rex and Slim show up and a fight ensues. Although the supplies are lost in the explosion, all but the henchman survive and Case gets away without being seen. To celebrate the oil well and their community's new financial stability, the townspeople plan a picnic, at which Ned will be guest of honor. Before the event, Link tells Ned that Rex killed his father, and Ned, after confronting Rex with the information, demands a shootout. Although Rex shoots the gun out of Ned's hand and tries to explain, Ned rides away, unwilling to listen. Remembering that Ned mentioned Case during the confrontation, Rex and Slim proceed to the shooting gallery to investigate. When Case and Link show up carrying $25,000, Rex tries to apprehend them, but Ned also appears and, believing Rex to be the wrong-doer, holds them up from behind. Confident of success, Case tells Ned how he and Barlow swindled the community. Case now plans to kill Ned, along with Rex and Slim, but a fistfight commences and during the fracas, Slim shoots Link. Then Case, while struggling with Ned, is killed with his own gun. Later in the day, Ned is ashamed and feels obligated to leave his home and Peggy. However, Rex persuades Ned that his father's poor judgment should remain a secret, as his discovery of oil in the area will result in prosperity and growth. Slim rides up, bearing a plaque from the territorial government that honors Barlow as the first man to find oil in the area. Convinced to stay, Ned rides with Peggy, Rex and Slim to the picnic celebration, where the town of Paxton will be renamed Barlow City.