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"Last Stage to Salt Flats"

(Original air date 12/05/66)


An alcoholic salesman's secret may save the lives of fellow stagecoach passengers,
including Heath, Jarrod and Victoria, standed in the desert by robbers


Writer: Arthur Browne Jr.

Director: Bernard McEveety

In Cherrico, Heath, Jarrod, Victoria, widow Emilie Branch (Norma Crane) and gun salesman Anson Cross (Lamont Johnson) get ready to board the stage to Stevensville when a stranger (Dennis Cross) rides up to inform the driver Charlie (Kevin Hagen) that a recent rockslide prevents any traveling on the main road. Charlie has no other choice but to take an alternate route through the desert, unaware that the tip was a hoax designed to lure them into an ambush.

The stranger, Chaps, and his partners in crime, Roper (Rex Holman) and Ernie (Fletcher Fist) catch up with the stage to rob it of all its money.


A fight ensues and gunfire resounds, leaving Charlie's co-driver Bert (Stephen Mines) grievously wounded.

Instead of killing their preys, the robbers decide to leave them stranded in the desert with only a water canteen to sustain them to the next town forty miles away. They make sure to take their horses and burst the water supply barrels.


Since no other stage will be taking this route, the rockslide having been a fib for their benefit only, the gang ponder their options. Drunken Cross starts rambling about the time he was stranded in the same area with 29 other wagon-train passengers. A scout travelling with them had led the way to a supposed water spring in the mountains, but there was none. All passengers, save him and two other men, died. They were able to make it to a small mining town called Salt Flats.

It dawns on Heath that the robbers couldn't have come this far without knowing of a stream to water their horses. Once they make a travois for Bert and arm themselves with Cross's guns, they decide to follow the robbers' tracks. Cross chooses to stay behind to drown himself in liquor, but has a last-minute change of heart.


The hot scorching sun renders their journey arduous. Despite their thirsts and the sandstorms, they drudge on.


Over a rattlesnake stew, Victoria and Emilie engage in a friendly conversation. She learns of the widow's wretched existence after her husband died, and that she is now four months pregnant by another man who left her.

Bert's condition worsens. Fever has taken a strong hold. Moreover, the sandstorm blew over the robbers' tracks.

Heath makes another forceful attempt at convincing Cross to reveal the location of this water spring, but the man remains tight-lipped.


During the night, a wolf's howl starts Emilie awake. Charlie crawls over to her and engages in small talk. She tells him that she's on her way to Stevensville to look up her sister, the only family she has left. Their friendly chat ends in an indirect marriage proposal.


In the morning, they bury Bert and move on. Heath spots a runaway horse roaming about. Charlie manages to jump on its back but gets thrown off, knocking the wind out of him. Fortunately, the incident leaves him with only a few lacerations and a bruised ego.


Cross leads them to what he thinks is a water hole. Instead, they find a mud pond. Heath begins to wonder about that runaway horse, alone in the middle of the desert. The animal must have found water to survive. On a hunch, he dunks one of Cross's empty bottles beneath the mud and much to everyone's relief, they find it filled with drinkable water.


When Heath draws the last drop of water from the pond, Jarrod insists that Cross lead them to that water spring. Upon Cross's reluctance, Jarrod begins to suspect that the man might had guided all those people to the wrong pass on purpose to leave them out to die.

Cross confesses to being that young scout. After having failed to lead the stranded to water, two men had threatened him at gunpoint to steal the remaining water from the other passengers and head on to Salt Flats.

On Victoria's last desperate plea, Cross unwillingly agrees to lead them to that pass. They slouch on with their last ounce of energy, hoping Cross's hunch is right.


At night, Heath spots a fire glimmering in the distance. He, Jarrod and Charlie go investigate and find the robbers' campfire. Their surprise attack leaves two dead and one on the run.


Next to the camp site, Cross finds the water spring.

The next morning, they fill up their canteens for their long winding road to Salt Flats.

As for him, Cross is happy to learn that he hadn't been wrong about the spring. He and the other passengers had been stranded in the desert in the middle of August, time when every water hole is practically dried up.

They take the horses and ride toward their oasis.


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