Central Oregon—the last frontier. Transportation is still by stagecoach and freight wagon. There is a movement afoot for a people’s railroad, paid for by the state, to bring the benefits of rails to the area, to make it easier to ship livestock and produce, and to encourage settlement. For years the competing railroad barons, James J. Hill and Edward H. Harriman, have done nothing toward building a line in central Oregon, but now, under the impetus of the people’s railroad bill, they both set out to do just that.
Lee Dawes, a front man buying rights-of-way for the Hill interests, is charged with besting Mike Quinn, who is acquiring rights-of-way for the Harriman line. Dawes and Quinn have competed in this kind of work for years, as they have competed for women. An essential property on the way to Bend is owned by Hanna Racine, and both Dawes and Quinn want the right-of-way across her land. The two vie to come up with a strategy to seduce her into committing to the interest they represent, while an unknown third party is intent on frustrating them both through brutal violence.