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Route 66: The Beryllium Eater

Grizzled old prospector Jack McConkle has finally hit upon the strike of a lifetime - discovering a vein of rare Beryllium ore in the desert of the American southwest. However, Tod and Buz's employer, land baron Durant is bent on bullying the old man into relinquishing his claim upon the find. To the rescue come Tod and Buz, determined to protect McConkle's interests. But they are about to find that Durant plays hardball, and their own lives are imperiled by their involvement.

Episode Info  

Episode number: 1x10
Production Number: 10
Airdate: Friday December 09th, 1960

Director: Alvin Ganzer
Writer: Richard Collins

Guest Stars
Edgar BuchananEdgar Buchanan
As Jack McConkie
Edward BinnsEdward Binns
As Durant
Inger StevensInger Stevens
As Wendy
Freeman LuskFreeman Lusk
As Mine Doctor
Peter MamakosPeter Mamakos
As Babcock
Main Cast
Martin MilnerMartin Milner
As Tod Stiles
George MaharisGeorge Maharis
As Buz Murdock


In the Arizona desert, grizzled old prospector Jack McConkie, after a lifetime of mostly fruitless searching, has finally made the find every locator dreams of. He has struck a vein of rare Beryllium ore - a discovery worth a fortune once he stakes his claim.
Having been deserted by his fickle pack mule, McConkie is picked up by Tod and Buz as they are tooling through the dunes. In a jovial, half-delirious state, he relates his good fortune to the young duo; making them doubt his sanity.
McConkie spends the evening drinking and bragging about his find at a local watering hole. He also reveals that the discovery of the Beryllium is only the first step - he needs financial backing and manpower in order to make a profit from the ore.
Unbeknownst to him, one of the bar's patrons, Wendy, is the wife of Fred Durant, owner of the local mining company. The Durant firm also happens to be where Tod and Buz are employed. When McConkie arrives to his camp the next day he finds Durant's right-hand man Babcock, who is there to "persuade" old man to sign away his claim. McConkie refuses . . .
The next morning the boys are once again driving through the desert when they find McConkie beaten within an inch of his life. The boys drive him back to the mining infirmary, where the doctor says that his situation is touch and go.
Durant tells the boys that if he doesn't pull through, he plans to will everything he owns, including the Beryllium strike's location to them. With the three men alone in his infirmary room, he whispers directions to them so that they may find the claim on their own.
Meanwhile Durant, facing tax trouble, is desperate for the lion's share of the Beryllium find and is determined to use any means necessary to obtain it. Back at work, Tod and Buz are pulled from their shift by Babcock and invited to Durant's home, where the man offers to become partners with the two, providing them the manpower they need to make the claim work. The boys refuse him while Wendy displays an obvious interest in Buz. The feeling is mutual, but Buz informs her he doesn't go out with married women, regardless of how bad off their marriage is or how unsavory the characters of their husbands. Thus spurned, Wendy, however makes an offer to Tod and Buz - she will put up the necessary men and equipment from her own stake in the company. She gets them a pickup fully equipped with all the necessary equipment for the boys to verify the claim so it can be staked. When Babcock attempts to force them off the Durant property, Buz, doing what he does best, cold-cocks the foreman.
The boys head out into the desert to locate McConkie's claim. Soon they realize they have been followed and are being observed from a distance by Babcock and a couple of his cronies. For the beenfit of their observers, the duo set up their equipment in a random location and then pretend to celebrate as if they have located the find. Then Tod drives out of sight, ostensibly to file the claim.
When Babcock and his men arrive, Buz holds a rifle on them, demanding they clear out. Babcock tells him the Beryllium rightfully belongs to the company since its location was confirmed with company equipment, but Buz is having none of it and fires a warning shot at the men as they try to approach him. The men sullenly get back into their truck. However, Babcock unexpectedly backs the vehicle into Buz, causing him to lose his rifle and be overpowered by Babcock and his goons.
When Babcock discovers that he has been tricked and that the Beryllium is not to be found in the spot they are at, he orders Buz tied to stakes in the desert floor. Babcock turns on the radioactive locator device and threatens to use it to kill Buz unless the latter reveals the Beryllium's true location. Just then Tod, who has not been far away, returns to aid Buz. After a terrific fight (in which Buz narrowly frees himself from his bonds in time to escape being run over by Durant's truck) and truck chase, Babcock and his men are rounded up and driven back into town. Dropping the trio off at Durant's door, Tod and Buz inform the man that there is no way he is ever going to get any sort of legal claim to the Beryllium find, and that if McConkie dies, he and his cronies are up for murder with their testimony. They leave with Durant pleadingly giving ever-decreasing percentage offers for the stake.
But, luckily, a visit to the infirmary shows that old man's health is improving, aided in no small part by the knowledge that Tod and Buz have filed his claim. The boys accept a thousand dollars for their services when McConkie's money begins to roll in - a pittance considering the Beryllium's potential value.
Wendy tells Buz that she is through with Durant and asks Buz to take her with them. While Buz knows that Wendy had nothing to do with Durant's actions, the entire incident has left a bad taste in his mouth. After saying goodbye to Wendy, he and Tod hit the road again for further adventures elsewhere...

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Episode Notes
Filmed in Page, Arizona and environs (October 26-November 1, 1960).

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