In a frontier town on the Oregon trail during the 1849 gold rush, a modest man PATRICK TATE is trying to build a life for his soon expanding young family. A well trained carpenter and sometimes undertaker, he wants to be an honest, self-made man with a family that wants for nothing.
He continues to be an outsider and not fully accepted by the community, still Patrick believes the quiet town is a good place for a growing family. He is dedicated to his work, but makes little money, and he and his wife INGRID survive by farming their small parcel of land beside the Oregon trail. The passing wagons on their way to the communities growing around the Gold Rush tempt Patrick to move the family and join them, much to a pregnant Ingrids protests.
One night notorious outlaw DUTCH ALBERT and his four-man gang come to town on a man hunt. Sensing an opportunity, Dutch quickly takes over the small town with the elderly SHERIFF unable to stop his re-opening of the towns saloon. The gambling, the pistols and Dutchs whiskey soon brings death and destruction, and Patricks undertaking business logically starts to turn a profit.
Patrick finally begins to enjoy the rewards of all his hard work. As business booms between them, the ruthless outlaw starts to treat him as an ally. Many in the community are disgusted by Patricks apparent complicity, and Ingrid utterly rejects the familys new-found prosperity as blood money, the proceeds of evil. She threatens to take their daughter EMMA and leave the town.
Patrick justifies his actions - hes just doing his job to provide for the family - to Ingrid, and to himself. As long as the violence remains at the saloon with its patrons, he sees no reason why his family shouldnt benefit. But Patrick is now living in a dangerous time, at a dangerous place, when loyalties can spin like the barrel of a gun.