Laird Garner is given a disproportional share of the credit for routing a gang of hold-up men and, in short order, finds backing for his bank an gets himself elected as the mayor of Cimarron City. Garner has even bigger ideas - aided by a crooked sheriff and villainous bunch of deputies, he soon gains a financial stranglehold on the booming town.
A gang of gunslingers recruits their newest member - John Hartman Jr., the son of another notorious shootist who is trying to live up to his father's reputation. The outlaws threaten Cimarron City with destruction and kidnap two of its younger citizens to enforce the point. Will Buckley refuses to help the town prepare to fight the criminals because he recognizes his young son as one of the gang's members.
Reports of a monster who kills people and mauls livestock outside of Cimarron City panics the local citizenry. Mayor Matt Rockford and Deputy Sheriff Lane Temple organize a search party to capture or kill the legendary beast without success. Meanwhile the killings continue and Beth Purcell mysteriously disappears.
Matt Rockford and his men rescue a tinhorn gambler from three cowhands who claim that they had been cheated by the man they were trying to kill. Rockford lets the cardplayer go on his way and the man sets up shop in Cimarron City, much to the disgust of many of its citizens.
A gunfighter who abandoned his son, Webb Martin, many years ago tracks him down in Cimarron City determined to make amends. When the father rescues Webb from a murderous gambler, the youth decides to try to put aside his bitter feelings only to discover that his father isn't the misunderstood man he portrays himself as.
Cimarron City's businessmen hopes of organizing the big Founders' Day celebration without their wives' knowledge are soon dashed. The women determine that a little culture is need for the festivities and assign the men their roles in their version of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol'. Just before the big day, the child selected to play Tiny Tim announces that he won't go on stage unless his father can see his performance. Unfortunely the man has been arrested in a neighboring town for stealing chickens.
Beth Purcell befriends her newest boardinghouse customer, Drew McGowan, an ex-convict recently released from prison who has returned to Cimarron City determined to find out who framed him for the crime for which he was falsely imprisoned. The guilty parties determine to get rid of McGowan before he can exact his revenge.
Deputy Sheriff Lane Temple falls in love with Cimarron City's pretty new school teacher, Laura Winfield. Beth Purcell becomes suspicious of her newest boarder when she sees Laura meet with a shady character on her first evening in town and suspects that the young woman is trying to distract Lane from guarding a valuable gold shipment.
Saloon singer and town drunk Ossie Harper shows shyster lawyer Addison a land grant his father earned in 1859 deeding him the land on which Cimarron City was built. Ossie only wants to be respected, but his crooked partner's determined to bleed Cimarron City dry by extorting money from each businessman to allow them to remain on the land they've already developed.
An itinerant printer moves to Cimarron City with his pretty daughter and gets a job at the town's newspaper. The paper's apprentice is attracted to the girl, though her father does his best to prevent the courtship from progressing. Meanwhile Sheriff Simpson and Deputy Sheriff Temple investigate the brutal murders of two women.
After Cimarron City's sheriff is murdered, Deputy Sheriff Lane Temple captures the killer and locks him in jail awaiting trial. The killer's gang demands that the outlaw be released immediately or they will burn the town to the ground. Temple develops a plan to capture the gang before they can do any damage, but the frightened town council objects.
While traveling by train to Denver, Matt Rockford meets and falls in love with Lisa Caldwell, a beautiful woman who, unbeknownst to him, has been falsely accused of murder. Lisa is blackmailed into losing five thousand dollars in a poker game to a U.S. Marshal as a bribe to free a notorious outlaw and his gang. When the prisoners escape and the train is snowbound, Matt, Lisa and their fellow passengers find themselves in deadly peril.
A Paris-trained choirmaster of falls in love with the beautiful soprano who sings in Cimarron City's church choir. He decide to eliminate the young woman's fiancé by making it appear that her ex-boyfriend, a hot-headed cowboy with an itchy trigger finger, murdered him so he can marry his talented protégée.
A young would-be gunslinger trying to earn a reputation challenges Matt Rockford to a gunfight. The youngster panics and accidentally shoots a whiskey bottle, splattering glass shards into Matt's eyes, blinding him. While Rockford recovers, he recounts his early days when he was forced to defend his reputation as a fast gun in every town he visited.
A group of Danish immigrants journeys to Cimarron City in search of free land to homestead, only to discover they had been cheated by a disreputable businessman in St. Louis. Matt Rockford offers to rent them some of his land until they get back on their feet, but conflicts arise when the newcomers start to fence waterholes on the property to prevent Matt's cattle from trampling their crops.
Cimarron City's businessman band together to build a railroad spur to the main track, but have only 90 days to do it or a neighboring town will be awarded the contract. The general contractor hires a cut-rate construction company to lay the track, importing a gang of Chinese coolies to do the heavy labor. Things go well for a time until the coolies revolt against the low pay and poor working conditions, threatening to scuttle the project and ruin the spur line's stockholder and the Cimarron City with them.
Cimarron City is cut off when a regiment of Mexican lancers joins forces with a small army of American renegades intent on recapturing Texas and returning it to the Mexican sovereignty. With telegraph service to the U.S. Army cut off, Sheriff Lane Temple attempts to cause the two disparate units to have falling out before they can execute their plans of conquest
Professor James King, a charlatan boasting of magical powers arrives in Cimarron City and promptly puts on a séance where he calls the spirit of a dead man to visit from the dead. Matt Rockford isn't too concerned about the gullible citizens who are taken in by the professor's tricks until he detects a sinister motive behind the hypnotist's visit.