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When a dry well leads to a murder and an uprising, Sheriff Bodie has to defend himself in court against an entire town.

Riot at Arroyo Seco
Season 4, Episode 9
Air date Feb 1, 1960
Episode guide
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Gold, Glory and Custer-Requiem
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Apache Blood

Plot

A severe drought has stricken Arroyo Seco. The only movements in town are rolling tumbleweeds and people leaving. The town's founding family, the Tobins, are going to stick it out. Patriarch Ralph Tobin is counting on driller Chet Noler to dig a new well, but so far all Noler has made is a deep, dry hole.

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Cheyenne stops Jess Tobin from bullying one of his clients.

Other holes are being dug by the townspeople in the form of mortgages owed to Ralph's rotten sons, Jess and Harry. Harry is using the drought to foreclose on cash-strapped farmers while Jess the boozehound bullies them. The only thing keeping Jess from running roughshod over everyone is Sheriff Bodie, who drags him to the jail to sober up. Meanwhile, Harry is terrorizing Jess's wife Beth to keep her quiet about their nasty business or he will reveal to her father-in-law her wild past as a saloon girl. The only other person who knows her secret is Cheyenne, who is her old friend.

Word comes to the town that Noler has disappeared with all of his equipment. The townspeople are nearly hysterical as Cheyenne rides out to investigate. At the well site he finds young Johnny Benson with a gunshot wound barely clinging to life. Cheyenne chases after Noler and brings him back to town to face a murder charge after Benson dies.

Fueled by a flood of free liquor from the closing saloon, the men of the town get riled up by Jess to lynch Noler. Despite Cheyenne's assurances that Noler will face justice, Jess keeps egging the men on until they surround the jail and demand the well driller's neck for their noose. Cheyenne meets them with a shotgun raised and orders they depart. Someone tosses a rock against his chest that knocks him over and as the men storm the office Cheyenne fires from the floor. Jess falls dead onto the boardwalk.

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Sheriff Bodie smashes a liquor barrel to bring Jess Tobin's drunken bender to an end.

The next morning, Cheyenne finds his troubles have compounded. Harry is spreading a rumor that Cheyenne killed Jess out of jealousy over Beth. Ralph believes this lie and accuses Bodie of murder. Since she still fears Harry exposing her past, Beth refuses to tell her father-in-law that Cheyenne is innocent.

Judge Lloyd Pomeroy arrives in town. He relieves Cheyenne of office and formally accuses him of the murder of Jess Tobin. At the trial, the entire town is present but no one will testify in support of their former sheriff. Cheyenne stands alone.

As Pomeroy questions the witnesses -- the telegraph operator, Cheyenne's deputy, townspeople -- their conflicting stories hint at the truth: there was a lynch mob outside the jail that night and Cheyenne did the only thing he could to protect his prisoner. Pomeroy castigates everyone present for their disgraceful behavior and all but accuses Ralph Tobin of attempting to bribe him in exchange for a guilty verdict.

Seeing his chance, Noler starts to confess that Jess and Harry paid him to stop drilling. When Harry tries to shoot Noler he is disarmed by the bailiff. Pomeroy orders Sheriff Bodie to arrest Harry, but Cheyenne is no where to be found. In the courtroom chaos, Cheyenne slipped out the back and rode away.

Quotes

"A town like this doesn't deserve a man like Cheyenne Bodie. He's too good for it."

- Judge Pomeroy

Episode Notes

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