The Empty Land
“The Empty Land” is a story written by America’s best-loved writer of the classic Western novel, Louis L’Amour. The book explores the greed and violence bred by the wealth of an overnight mining town, like the many that popped up overnight in the new western frontier of a young America. Set in the 1860s in the mountains of the vast wilderness of Utah, L’Amour captures the realistic terrain and the rough characters that settled these fly by night towns and the men charged with enforcing law and order amongst the ruffians that inhabited them.
The story begins with Dick Felton searching for a vein of gold. The exact location was given to Felton twenty years ago by an old man who claimed to know where to strike it rich. Together with several partners he has engaged, Felton rides into the town of Confusion, Utah to investigate. What Felton and his partners find make them rich beyond their dreams. They set up the Discovery Mine and soon it becomes a magnate that draws all kinds of economic prospects.
Along with the masses of miners, businessmen, saloon owners came the thieves, murderers, and gamblers. In a short matter of time, Confusion became a town plagued with unbelievable crime. The man they called on to fix the mess was Matt Coburn. Coburn had a reputation for cleaning up the roughest towns. He knew how to do it and who to take out doing it. He was fast with a gun and not afraid to use it.
When Coburn entered Confusion, he had his doubts. His experienced eye told him this was a town destined for self-destruction. What Coburn did not know was that there was a secret plot and at the target of this plot was the mines that gave the town of Confusion its existence.
Felton and his partners try coaxing Matt Coburn into becoming the town’s marshal. Coburn unfortunately is tired of the dangerous life he has led and only desires to create his own piece of tranquillity. He longs for a ranch with his own herd of cattle but most of all the ability to sleep at night without worrying that tomorrow will bring another gun battle to save the lives of another town and the lives of more innocent people.
Other characters that play into the plot by L’Amour are Laurie Shannon who lives outside of Confusion on a small ranch of her own. She is an attractive woman who has become increasingly unhappy with the hustle and bustle of the new boomtown. Madge Healy is another character. She is a child actor who is now a businesswoman. She owns considerable holdings in the gold mines but is being hustled by an eastern conglomerate headed by the Kendricks. She may lose all her holdings if the gunmen hired by the Kendricks are successful.