Sixteen In Nome is narrated by young Joe May, an Arizonian who has come to Alaska to "make his stake for a ranch." Joe finds being on his own difficult as he reflects "Sixteen is a bad age for a boy. It is too full of growing and not enough full of strength." Joe's coming of age story in Alaska during the gold rush of the 1890's is an intertwining backdrop to the conflict between Hugh Massey and Arnie Calmont.
Massey and Calmont were a legend in the Yukon, partners in all until they clash over a most extraordinary and powerful dog known as Alec the Great, and over a mystery woman, Marjorie, who puts herself up for auction to the highest bidder among the Nome miners. Calmont wins the auction but Massey wins Marjorie's heart, just as he had won Alec's heart when Alec belonged to Calmont.