The Drift Fence (Jim Traft I) (1933)

02 Jun

The Drift Fence - The American Magazine

The American Magazine April – October 1929
Harper & Brothers, New York 1933
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine Sep 1947
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Jun 1949, Sep 1956, Nov 1960 (Galactic Central)

The Drift Fence was first published as a serial in The American Magazine beginning April of 1929. Harper & Brothers, New York published the story in its entirety in 1933. Its story takes place on the Mogollon Plateau around 1889 (ZGWS).

“Crowell was delighted with “Drift Fence”. The only objection he could find was that the girl was too young, but he can easily make her a year or two older.” (Correspondence between Dolly and Zane Grey)

Zane Grey at seaBeing the devout fisher that Zane Grey was, much time was spent at sea:

“If fishing was slack, he worked on a book until breakfast. He wrote much of The Drift Fence and Robbers’ Roost at sea” (SI Vault)

The Drift Fence was first published in 1929 as a serial in The American Magazine.

Molly Dunn sat waiting on the rickety old porch of Enoch Summer’s store in the village of West Fork. For once she was oblivious to the approach of the lean-faced, long-legged young backwoodsmen who lounged there with their elders. Molly was sixteen and on the eve of a great adventure.

Molly is our “damsel in distress” whose role it is to be rescued by the heroic stranger come in from the East, culminating in their ever-lasting love for each other being proclaimed. As such Zane Grey pretty much follows the recipe he has followed in his previous novels. I believe Drift Fence is Zane Grey’s 37th Romance Western story and it had to be difficult to keep up his interest in what he was doing. But he tried to add in new details that seldom had to do with the romance but more to do with the backdrop of the story. In Drift Fence that has to do with the drift fence.

Drift Fence by WHD Koerner

“Drift Fence” by WHD Koerner, 1923; “Nope,” replied Slinger, “I don’t like the deal and if I happen to run into any of you gents upon the diamond, I’ll take particular offense. Savvy that?”

A drift fence is a long, continuous fence used to control the drift of animals in an open area. Mr. Summers has the ambition of setting up  a 100 miles of such a fence and for that job he is going to need to get help.

Enter Jim Taft, our green-horn from Missouri. For some reason he is hired as the overseer of two gangs of fence-builders (gangs with a dubious reputation when it comes to cattle disappearing). Taft’s job will be to keep the cattle that belongs to Mr. Summers in Mr. Summers’ ownership and to keep the gangs from fighting each other and other dastardly deeds.


The Drift Fence on Gutenberg







  • 1933: Kampf um die Farm (German)
  • 1953: Die grosse Schranke (German)
  • 1963: Il recinto (Italian)
  • 1969: Der Mann aus dem Osten (German)
  • 1972: Vestens helter (Norwegian)
  • 1981: Der Weidezaun (German)


Barbed Wire, Barbaric Backlash

Dolly And Zane Grey: Letters From a Marriage

The Man Who Lived Two Lives in One

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Posted by on 2014-06-02 in Books


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