Owen Buchanan, along with his brother, Philo, his cousin, Willis, and a neighbor, Lucas, leave farming behind in Illinois and head for the Black Hills gold rush in June 1876. Itís a long walk with a bull train from Fort Pierre on the Missouri River to Deadwood. Near the end the four young men rescue the Gruenhagen family from a Sioux war party: Dr. Hiram Gruenhagen, his wife Willemina, and his daughter Josephine.
In the Black Hills Owen and his companions join Everett Miller, Lucasís uncle, on his placer mining claim. Everett teaches them placer mining, but he is also their guide to the boomtown excitement of Deadwood, a town that was illegal and where the only law was the pistol a man carried. They meet Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane and others, including the notorious outlaw brothers Webster and Erasmus Stark and their gang.
Owen soon realizes that mining the miners is a better path to wealth than mining itself. He and his brother establish the Hotel Deadwood, and bill it as the cheapest hotel in Deadwood. And they find other opportunities for making money in this vibrant boomtown .
And while all this is proceeding Owen and Philo compete for the affections of Josephine.
But the Buchanan brothers clash with the Stark brothers, and this leads to confrontation and deadly violence.
And maybe this story tells the real reason Jack McCall shot Wild Bill Hickok.