When a defiant young brave and his mother turn up at a wagon train stop, the town's female boss won't release needed provisions, to keep the caravan at a standstill. Nothing about the situation is as it seems, including that the mother's hiding a knife to murder the town's most prominent citizen. Wagonmaster Christopher Hale is caught between getting his wagons rolling, keeping his men and the brave from killing each other, and satisfying the town's woman boss one way or another.
Coop accompanies Grace Marshall to visit her sister Myra whom, traumatized by an upbringing by an abusive father, Grace finds living a life of addiction and infidelity for which Grace wrongfully blames husband Vern.
Victor Harp tells Kitty that he has married her while still married to Martha who he must join on the Wagon Train to take to San Francisco for a divorce. He hires former acquaintance and waster Miles Brisbane to pretend to be Kitty's husband so Kitty can go along and Harp will not be discovered as a bigamist. When Harp tells Kitty that he can not leave wealthy Martha, Kitty gives Harp and ultimatum which he mocks and in anger she shoots Harp to death and then flees the wagon train. Martha offers a reward for the return of Kitty and Brisbane pursues her for the reward ...
The Bleecker gang disguised as farmers with several wagons seek Hale's wagon train to join but they actually carry a wagon of weapons and plan to hijack the train and use it and the weapons to rob a nearby fort of gold.
Canaby, who is unjustly reputed to have led a wagon train to disaster in the desert, becomes unexpectedly part of Hale's train as Hale has some of the same problems Canaby had and the train carries a widow wanting revenge against Canaby.
Jed Whitmore, one of three brothers that committed an infamous train robbery, is now town sheriff Frank Lewis but his brother released from prison comes to town with a fellow inmate and a reporter to get paid for the Jed Whitmore story.
Hale's train must take a dangerous desert route due to hostilities which danger grows when spoiled Geneva Balfour starts a fire destroying supplies to get her husband to return east and Hale lies to train members about the danger's extent.
Wealthy Engel has used psychopathic Harry Diel as a proxy during the Civil War to save Diel from jail but Diel plots on the train as Engel's employee to usurp Engel's business by making himself appear a cuckold to Engel among other wiles.