Cutthroat Junction Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #02, Episode #26
Bonanza features the life and connection of the Cartwrights within their family and community through its weekly hour-long episodes. Cutthroat Junction, written by Nat Tanchuck, was first aired on March 18, 1961. This episode became the fifty-eighth episode of Bonanza and the last-minute replacement for the episode “The Gift,” broadcasted the following week.
The Cartwrights accompany troubleshooter Jed Trask (Robert Lansing) to a town called Cut Throat Junction. Trask’s freight company assigned him to round up a gang of thieves disrupting the delivery of goods and mail, giving him the freedom to accomplish the task by all means.
However, Trask suddenly gets fired in the middle of his mission. Disgruntled by the change of events, Trask switches sides, joining the thieves in their efforts to hijack vital shipments heading for Virginia City.
Read Cutthroat Junction‘s plot and background trivia, or watch the full episode below.
Watch the Full Episode of Cutthroat Junction
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Cutthroat Junction, Bonanza’s twenty-sixth episode for its second season, stars the following cast:
- Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
- Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
- Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
- Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright
- Robert Lansing as Jed Trask
- Shirley Ballard as Belle Trask
- Dick Wessel as Big Mike Campbell (as Richard Wessel)
- John Harmon as Weasel
- J. Edward McKinley as Walker
- Dan White as Simms
- Robert Anderson as Thorn (as Bob Anderson)
- Jim Hayward as Jose McCorkland
- Robert Adler as Stage Driver
- Bob Miles as Gang Member
- John Barton as Townsman (uncredited)
- Chet Brandenburg as Bartender (uncredited)
- John Breen as Townsman (uncredited)
- Bill Clark as Gang Member (uncredited)
- Jaye Durkus as Gang Member (uncredited)
- Chuck Hamilton as Townsman (uncredited)
- Ethan Laidlaw as Townsman (uncredited)
- Bob LaWandt as Townsman (uncredited)
- Cactus Mack as Gang Member (uncredited)
- Rod McGaughy as Gang Member (uncredited)
- John Rice as Townsman (uncredited)
- Jack Tornek as Townsman (uncredited)
Full Story Line for Cutthroat Junction
Sierra Freight and Stage Lines, a freight company, sends a troubleshooter, Jed Trask, to handle what’s interrupting the arrival of mail and supplies in Virginia City for six weeks. The company gives Jed and his wife, Belle Trask, all the means to get Sierra on schedule again, even if it requires them to kill someone.
The Cartwrights, led by Ben, join the Trasks as they head to the Latigo (Cutthroat Junction), which, according to Ben, is a town full of killers.
Jed and Ben visit the private office of the duly appointed division superintendent of the Sierra. At the same time, the Cartwright boys go to the livery stable. Jed orders Big Mike to leave town, then straightens up the depot. However, Big Mike has other plans to handle Jed. Joe comes to the office, informing Jed and Ben about the mail and supplies stocked at a barn in town.
Jed and the Cartwrights discover the barn loaded with supplies not only for Virginia City but for half the West. Joe suggests they start moving some of it through the stage by the end of the week. Jed agrees, then assures them he’ll send a message to the home office to load the rest of the stuff.
Big Mike sets an ambush, severely injuring Jed. The Cartwrights retaliated immediately, but Big Mike managed to escape.
Jed wakes up in bed, then tells Belle he needs to continue his assignment. However, when he tried to stand up, the pain hit him. Belle assures Jed that the Cartwrights are taking care of everything, but Jed doubts they know how even to manage a stage line. He thanks Belle for asking the Cartwrights to stay and run the depot. Jed insists on running down Big Mike and putting fear into everybody to accomplish his task. Belle worries Jed will only get hurt doing so, but Jed assures her that he’s doing this for her.
The following day, the stagecoach for Virginia City arrives in Latigo. The driver has a letter for Jed. Ben and Jed think it’s a paycheck. However, Jed’s mood turns bitter upon reading the content. He asks Ben to assist him on the wheelchair Belle brought, then they go outside, reminding the people he’s still in the town.
The Cartwrights recognize Jed’s loyalty to the Sierra, but Ben thinks he’s more of a fanatic.
Belle noticed that the letter had been bothering Jed for a while. Jed tells her it’s company business, but Belle insists it’s more than that. Jed reveals that the company has fired him, devastated that they kicked him out after serving them for ten years. Belle assures Jed that he’ll find other jobs, but he doesn’t like the idea. Instead, he plans to ruin Sierra no matter what it takes.
Jed visits the gang of thieves, offering them a setup that can bring them more money. They initially hesitate since they know Jed’s a loyal company man but agree later.
Jed and his gang of thieves find Big Mike’s camp. He ruthlessly kills him, then guides the crew to raid every Sierra freight shipment. Jed does all this behind the Cartwrights, who still believe he’s recovering from his injuries.
Ben reports to Jed that another freighter hasn’t arrived. Jed tells Ben it’s Big Mike, but Ben believes someone else is behind the overdue, someone who knows the shipment reports and schedules.
Later, one of the town citizens brought Big Mike’s dead body to town. Ben realizes it is Jed’s doing, which Jed confirms by standing up and claiming the place is his now.
The Cartwright set forth to get the Sierra back in business, so Virginia City and the Ponderosa receive their supplies immediately. They confront Jed in the town bar, along with a few honest citizens in Latigo who believe it’s time for Jed and his men to leave.
Jed and his gang of thieves set camp outside the town. He plans to return to town, burn the barn and the people in it, and kill anyone running out. Belle refuses to support Jed, especially in his plan to shoot the Cartwrights in cold blood. However, blinded by anger, he slaps her to the ground.
The Cartwrights and a few townsmen are busy arranging the supplies for the next stagecoach. Belle enters the barn with a rifle to escort the Cartwrights out of town. Hoss manages to stop her, and she begins sobbing. Belle reveals that Jed is planning to burn them out, with the Sierra firing him taking a massive toll on his life.
Later that evening, Jed and his gang arrive as they planned. However, the Cartwrights and the townspeople were ready for their arrival, so they started firing at them before they could set the barn on fire. Jed and his gang immediately took cover inside. Ben warns them to surrender or they’ll burn out. Terrified, his gang members yield on their own, leaving him alone in the barn.
Ben approaches Jed to talk to him. However, Jed starts shooting Ben. In the end, Jed leaves the barn, then falls to the ground to his death.
The shipment finally returns to its normal state in Virginia City, except for the rate increase. Meanwhile, Belle Trask has a show in Comstock Hotel as the world’s greatest woman trick shot. The Cartwrights decide to have dinner at the hotel and watch their friend’s show.
Full Script and Dialogue of Cutthroat Junction
[Music] hey i see what i tell you no stage or meal today or any other day well now the sierra is doing the best it can we've been cut off for mail and supplies for six weeks now let's tear down the plan for just a minute hold it there hold it now just a minute and look when you asked me to head up this committee you said we'd work out some kind of peaceful plan to get the stage back on schedule we'd begin to act like a mob then we business man are fighting for our lives the sierra's pushing us to the wall we're beginning to feel the same pinch of lack of male and supplies out in the ponderosa too that doesn't mean we have to lose our heads and become violent about it you ranchers don't have to pay 30 a sack for flour or 50 cents a pound for potatoes else pays right here in virginia city now let's all just settle down and let's talk to sims about it oh well i wrote a letter to the head office they're sending out a troubleshooter good by the time he gets here we'll all be broke yeah the sierra is responsible for the high prices around here making things scarce and hard to get and sims is the sierra in this town i say let's run go ahead tear up the sierra and run me out of town now go ahead mr walker sam's you get these citizens of sierra property yes sir hold on sims and what gives you the authority to come in here and threaten us with a gun mister there are 26 men have questioned my authority now they're all dead i thought it wasn't enough for you how about that [Music] so [Music] you won't have any more trouble sims i'm on my way to latigo to get the sierra running on schedule again latigo just contrast that town's poison yeah i got the antidote right here well i understand that every no good gunman in the west is held up in latigo yeah that's right they're using it as a base to burn and plunder our stages and our freight wagons oh one man and one gun won't stand much of a chance against a whole town of killers that's my job i'm paid to do it of course if there are any volunteers to help me clean out latigo well now you can't count on them fellers out there they've all got their businesses to take care of what businesses if this era ever stops running through here this will be a ghost town oh it never fails you scratch a citizen with talk of volunteering his gun and he runs like a whip dog ain't that the truth honey sure is jed mr crasque i agree to head up this committee and not backing down from it yeah well you might want to reconsider if anything happens to you the sierra won't pay for as much as a pine box you know this era is far more important to us than it is to itself as far as your company's concerned it's only so much profits as far as we're concerned the sierra is our lifeline to the outside world all right be ready to leave it set up ronnie looks like we bought ourselves another gun oh you're wrong you bought yourself four more guns my sons will go alone the quicker this is settled the better we'll all like it good [Music] i want one thing understood my first concern is the sierra when we get to latigo you'll all take orders from me that's agreeable crask as long as you remember that we're not hired gunman look let's get things straight i'm tired of people thinking of me as a hired gun i bring law and order to the sierra wherever it needs it all right now it needs it allowed to go well we're we're all for law and order to ask just want you to know that we we don't intend to shoot first and ask questions later and i don't intend to wind up on boot hill with a bullet in my back this is the only kind of law those kind of men will understand well ladies doesn't sound like any picnic ground maybe ought to send mrs trask back to virginia city bill adam cartwright's worried about you he thinks maybe i ought to send you back you're my man jed when you tell me to go back i'll go [Music] ah that's another one of our wagons only a half a day out of latigo [Music] ah [Music] oh [Music] you know on a town like this the undertaker's leading citizen [Music] i'll have them heat some water for your bath jet probably about an hour well you can still back out if you want to we have no intention of backing out why don't you suit yourself i'll be over the sierra it's right across the street [Applause] peaceful place let's get the horses delivery stick plenty of cash in this and big mike uh look look at them greenbacks did trash who's in for you mike campbell you're through get out tender's me to everett all right try some melt in your mouth maybe you didn't hear me i said you're through trash you're invading the private office of the duly appointed division superintendent of the sierra mike you've got one hour to get out of town well if i'm gonna leave town i might as well travel on a full stomach mike you forgot something [Applause] all right you too come on me well see ya i i was only one hour all right now that we got rid of big mike we can get started straightening up this dude look chad you're not gonna let them ride off scot-free they must be prosecuted prosecuted with what there isn't any law in this town first things first ben i work for the sierra jet when i came along you came along you promised you'd take orders from me look ben latigo is like a snake you cut off its head and the rest of it will die after an hour he only give us an hour that's time enough for you to go round up gold baker and his partner meet me in there anybody finds out he took over you got no business in this town look you just do like i say i'll take a jet track this has been a lot to go on a little while longer big mike would have owned virginia city he's never that smart man there's some more records to check hey come on take a look at the barn it's full of mail and supplies hey paul take a look at this it's where all the mail's been closest i ever got to virginia city well there's enough stuff here to keep the town happy for a couple of months you know there must be supplies and mail out here for half the west take us a month of sunday straighten all this out now there's a stage coming in the end of the week we can start moving some of it out then hey you know for young when you're real smart jeff yeah you know we're gonna need half a dozen wagons and teams to load this stuff up well there'll be a courier through here i'll send the message to the home office i'll go back to the stage depot right now and write it out come supper time i'll see y'all i'll buy the drinks all right i may misjudge that one yeah he's gotta admit one thing he sure knows his business that's for sure seems like this town's already fighter just since he's been here well this mail isn't gonna load itself come on let's get to work yeah yeah you're on my way boy you're in my way mister trash said how are you giving me this up i'm gonna enjoy watching you die we're out of here you vulture he's hardly breathing he'll be all right joe get the doctor right you wanted to be part of this well now you are which one of you was going to kill mike campbell boys let's get him upstairs bill bell i'm here jed i'm here i can't stay trust up like this i got a job to do you're not getting out of this bed until the doctor says so come on you stop mother hunting me i'm in shape right now to get back on the job oh there you see chad quit worrying the cartwrights are down at the station right now now they're taking care of everything what are the codewords know about running a stage line thought you'd be happy knowing they were staying on well i'm not in much shape right now to jump for joy just the same i'm glad that he asked you to stay on and run the depot all i have to do now is figure out a way of running down big mike leave well enough b jed big mike has run like a whip dog well enough won't leave me be i can't let a man put a bullet hole in me and get away with it every two-bit gunman in the west would want to try the same thing everybody knows he tricked you you have nothing to gain tracking him down like a hired killer don't you call me a hired killer i didn't i didn't honey i've got a job to do to do that job right i've got to put the fear of jed trask into everybody and keep it there fear jet of respect it's the same thing bill my gun got me my job and my gun is going to keep it if i let big mike stay alive everybody would say the sand was running out of my craw ted i just can't stand seeing you get hurt again i thought you understood something there are only two things in my life my work and you my work is the only way i know to get you the things i want for you [Music] ah hey all right stay from virginia city very much accepts the mail and stuff from his home office well we'll have plenty of letters for you to deliver to virginia city tell adam and has to start loading right don't see big mike around no i guess you won't either jed crass relieved him of his job my name is carter my sons and i are helping him out judd dress huh yeah i heard the company's making some changes here didn't figure they'd send out a task why's a good troubleshooter trouble with some troubleshooters they're sometimes bigger trouble they're sent out here to cure is that what you think about trask i do so do a lot of others at the home office wrecking trashcan want these letters and weight bills and this one's for impersonal oh you want me to deliver it no siree this is one pleasure i want for myself i've waited a long time to deliver this letter i don't know it's getting so they're running a stage is going to need a man who can read and write better than he can handle a gun or hitch a team of horses all right there it is there's a rundown on all of the freight that is due here in the next few weeks hey you know by the time the time we get through our end of things here everything should be back to normal looks like the driver had a letter for you did he give it to you yeah it's right there might be a paycheck it's about time [Applause] [Music] hey more trouble nothing i can't handle hey hey here let me help you thank you there we go how'd you get that at the undertaker's the undertaker he's also the local carpenter chairs tables and coffins are his specialty well you can take it back i don't want it i don't care what you want you're going to use it you'll just get well that much sooner don't you agree mr cartwright yes i think i do agree all right all right what's this letter you keep your hands away from that [Music] oh i'm sorry being cooped up in this room has made me kind of shaky maybe you're right about the chair at least i can get around a little bit well you know keeping busy is certainly better medicine than just sitting around in here and even in a wheelchair there are plenty of things to for you to take care of down at the depot well something i'm a lot more anxious to take care of than the depo that's mike campbell now look traskier you're in no condition to go riding after mike campbell i'm not gonna ride after big mike i'm gonna sit in that chair in front of this hotel and sooner or later big mike is going to get brave enough to come looking for me when he does this will be the last thing he'll ever see well trashcan you're taking an awful chance and well in that wheelchair you're sitting duck i've been taking chances for the sierra for 10 years maybe it's become a habit yeah honey i'm real glad you thought about that chair then while you're here you want to give me a hand into the chair all right all right all right all right i'll help you yeah [Music] yeah that's better i just wanted to know i'm still around are you sure this is what you want i know what i'm doing cartwright well i hope so we crossed away the depot i can see that the stage gets up to virginia city [Music] oh i know this food ain't got hopsin's touch but at least keep you from starving that what are you doing i was making a bid for a second helping what's bothering you bob oh nothing really trask he's a pretty hard man to figure it i don't trust him me neither a strange job i picked a strange man to handle it certainly no denying his loyalty to the sierra loyally seems he's dedicated his whole life to it well that's a pointless favor wouldn't you say maybe what do you mean well he's he's more than just loyal he's become almost fanatic about it and i've learned it's pretty hard to trust a fanatic no matter how good his intentions are jet what's the matter why don't you let me help you into bed stay up and think for a while that letter must be mighty important for you to lose sleep over it letter is company business you don't have to worry about it what's in it i told you it's company business it's more than that but don't try this you jumped at me the first time i asked you about it now you're jumping at me again i know when something's troubling you i've been fired bill [Music] this can't be true candid there's always been somebody in sierra management after my hide somebody who didn't like my methods ten years of my life i spent building that stage line ten years now fired just kicked out like that it's only a job honey there are plenty of jobs for a man like you jed trask doesn't go around begging for jobs and he's no saddle [ __ ] or fool kid to get kicked around either jed we've got to face things as they come honey we've been through worse things than this together that time that mustangs have opened up your scalp bloody massacre in the apache country don't tell me tell them tell the sierra it was my blood and sweat that marked that stage line all up and down the country mine they supplied the equipment and the money and i supplied the guts wherever that line started to fall apart who held it together me jed trask shed the sierra is only a pinpoint in this world we can go someplace where you'd really run out are you telling me to run out i know [Music] no after i get rid of big mike i'm gonna make this our town bill i'm gonna bust the sierra so wide open there won't be a trace of their mark left on this territory darling sit down you'll hurt yourself oh i don't need that chair i've been hit with since a dozen times chad will you sit down you're in no shape to be walking around yeah that's right sure everybody in town has seen me in that chair i know i can't walk i don't know what you're thinking jed but i am not gonna stand here and watch you get into trouble yeah yeah everybody in town knows i'm tied to this chair oh oh boy that's funny that's real funny i didn't want this chair to begin with but now that i got it i'm going to make it work for chad me can't do this what about the cartwrights what about them i don't know them anything they came along because virginia city was in trouble not because of me ted they came here as part of a committee to see that the stage gets through look you're not going to fool them for long they're bound to find out do you think they're just going to stand here and and watch you ruin the sierra all over again well that's up to them honey but they just better not get in my way [Music] squeeze them lock it lock it come around front weasel get where i can see i don't care for anybody behind my back sit down now i want big mike where is he you left town you ought to know that thorne you helped me find him i'll make it with you for a while big mike set us up covered for us now you expect us to turn on him you'd turn on your own mother if there was enough money in it for you you tie up with me and there will be enough what are your tickets for trash babes in the woods you don't work for sierra anymore the driver told us we didn't tell anybody else i already made sure of that so what are you trying to prove trask look though and i can set you boys up better than big mike ever did what's in it for you money for one thing satisfaction for another i spent 10 years building up that stageline thorn i know their schedules i know every shipment that comes through here i can show you boys how to make more money than you ever dreamed of you were always known as a pretty loyal company man how do we know you're not setting us up for a double cross i've taken you or anybody else as easy as this in the past few days [Music] [Applause] so drinking together good now you help me find big mike yeah i'll find him what about those four men you brought from virginia city the card rides i can handle them as easy as this [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] you want me to handle this task oh no this is a pleasure i've been saving for myself stay here boys [Music] so [Music] you should have shot a lot straighter mike uh just a minute trash thorn weasel stop him [Applause] all right now we can get back to more important things sierra [Applause] oh [Music] [Applause] hello dad how you feeling well i'd feel a lot better if i could get out of this blasted wheelchair you just stay there until you're ready to get out [Music] [Applause] [Music] good morning cartwright not such a good morning another freighter overdue oh yeah a big mike is sure working overtime well somebody is sure working overtime that's got to be mike he's the only one who has to know how to pull off those raids then he has second sight every wagon that was hit had been cargo aboard it was almost as if they were receiving the shipment reports and schedules quicker than we did i sure wish i was back on my feet ben i'd like to give you a hand well i know you do jada we could sure use another hand this is still my responsibility ben i won't shirk it jade i know how you feel look couldn't we round up the few honest citizens left here and get all those gunmen and run them out of town honest citizens then these guys are their best customers they'd rather run you out of town you're me well there must be a few honest citizens left with a little bit of pride in latigo then you're not gonna find one citizen who's willing to risk his life in order to clean the scum out of this town hey everybody look what i got it's big mike [Music] look what i ran across the rainbow canyon [Music] it's a big mic all right paul [Music] that's right ben i can walk fine and this is my town now [Music] it figures i tell you that man is an outnut fanatic he'd fight just as hard to smash the sierra as he went to build it up well i'll guarantee you i wasn't about to try to stop him out there he had had too many guns with him yeah well how many minutes backing him but he's got enough well most of the people in this town seem scared to death you think we can count on any of them i don't know but we'll have to without that stage virginia city is no better than the ghost town the ponderosa is no better off how do you think we got to go about it bob well we talked everybody in town see we can count on no i still ain't going to be many well let's hope it's enough [Music] jed i guess there are a few honest citizens left in latigo and they've decided it's time for you and your boys to leave oh now ben there's no call for you and me to have any trouble fact is i was just on my way to see you i wanted to offer you and your boys a deal no trouble and no deals just leave well with all those brave citizens standing behind you i guess i'd be kind of foolish to make this a showdown wouldn't it then whose side are you gonna be on when i come back [Music] if they come back we'll be ready for them now we'll get the supplies and mail ready for virginia city until the sierra sends out another man my sons and i will ride shotgun in the wagons uh cochlear night appreciate very much if you'd run the depot well mr clark right you think we're going about this in the right way mr corkland if you like living in a in a state of fear we're going at it all wrong if you have any regard for yourself or your family we have no choice [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] all right joe take one of them in find some wagons we're gonna need them if we're gonna load the supplies nice hey corker give [Music] me [Music] [Applause] [Music] how did it go no trouble at all i sneaked right up to the barn everybody was so busy worrying about you coming back they never did see me what about the card ride well wait i figure they mean business looks like they kind of took charge you know take things over all right and we'll give them some business we'll wait until dusk we'll circle back into town they'll still be in that barn working they'll burn them out when they come running it'll be like a turkey shoot for us ted let's murder your planet you hold your time all right maybe you got a reason to fight the sierra but that's no reason to shoot down the cartwrights in cold blood i told you you just shut up now that's 20 pounds good there'll be a six-man guard on the next wagon that draws out of here oh say i want you to pass the word around every man will be on duty from now on 12 hours on 12 hours off now starting tonight turn around your cart writes outside i'm escorting you out a lot ago so trask is sending a woman to do his work huh i'm trying to save your lives ben and please don't make me shoot how bella don't don't use that rifle then up put it down what was this all about chad he's coming out after dark to burn you out then you've got to try to understand sierra was his life when they fired him it was as if this if they tore out his heart well thank you bill for coming to warn us it must have been a difficult thing for you to do he never killed in cold blood only defending himself or the sierra take her to the hotel paul yeah come on bill i guess we better get ready for trask [Music] not yet [Music] [Music] hold it 45. come on [Music] [Music] all right a couple of them are hit somebody help him ask you and the others come on out with your hands high i will burn you out crashing on a count to ten one two only eight to go i'm getting out of here shut up oh don't shoot don't shoot i'm coming out five six i don't understand fight it get over there he's alive he's inside the barn but not for long time's up let's burn him out look i never had any intention of burning anybody out you're not figuring on taking him alone i'd like to talk to him we're going in with you look if we all go in he'll start shooting somebody'll get hurt i think i can reason with him trask i'd like to come in and talk to you but come ahead man what's your proposition i'm willing to listen careful bob [Music] grasp [Music] get i want to talk to you dead jed let's go well [Music] oh these sims where'd you learn to spell there's no a in freighters see here sims i'm not about to pay these freight bills uh what kind of bone you got to take now the sierra's robbing us blind these rates are sky high i won't pay them well don't blame me mr walker i don't make the rates the standard for everybody now go on inside i'll show you all right [Music] hey pop don't trask i sure like to see those potatoes they must be going way down in price to be using them for targets oh i've had enough shooting to last me a lifetime particularly with somebody with the name of trask at the butt end of a gun however since she is a friend of ours uh when we stop off at the cops dog have dinner and see the show hey good idea [Music] you
Behind the Scenes of Cutthroat Junction
The episode shows different usage of the Sierra company’s name. In the beginning, the sign reads “Sierra Freight & Stage Lines Virginia City.” However, the chalkboard at the stage office presents “Sierra Mail & Stage Lines.” Later in the episode, the office in Latigo shows “Sierra Freight & Stage Lines.” By the end, Virginia City’s branch office’s chalkboard reads “Sierra Mail & Stage Lines.”
Looking for More Bonanza Episodes?
Bonanza, which features the adventures of the Cartwrights, is a fantastic program worth watching alone or with your beloved ones. All 14 seasons and 430 episodes ran on NBC from September 1959 to January 1973. Cutthroat Junction is the 58th episode out of 430 and the twenty-sixth for the second season.
You can find more about any of the 430 Bonanza episodes here>>