In 1950, with the pulp era dwindling, Popular put out The Pecos Kid Western. He was, in the words of editor Mike Tilden, "hardly a regulation Western character." What did Tilden mean by that? Simply that here was a hero who was neither a steely-eyed pulp stalwart, nor a rodeo-shirted Hollywood trick-shooter - both infallible crusaders for justice, but about as realistic as the Lone Ranger.
When the ship on which Patrick Kelly is travelling founders off the Alaskan coast, newspaper reporters give Kelly his nickname. Jack McGowan and his beautiful daughter, Lila, aboard their floating gambling palace, provide a formidable challenge to Shipwreck Kelly and his partners. With a spring thaw setting in on the waterways of the North, the desperate race to be first to the headwaters of the Yukon is on. Cree Indian Louis LeMo and the bateaux men on the Yukon might swing the balance in Kelly's favor.
Buzz Leary has been in the Klondike, working in the timber business around Copper River, but now he comes back to Skidway. Leary still owns the lush stands of white pine that several others have long coveted, and no one is more his enemy than Mary Dardis who blames Leary for having killed her father.