Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Masked Rider Western #07 - Iron Horse Gunsmoke

Donald Bayne Hobart (1898-1970) began his career writing song lyrics and poems for romance magazines. His most popular literary work was the 19-year run of Whistling Waddy stories in Argosy. But, Hobart also wrote many novellas for the western pulp Masked Rider Western. My first experience with Hobart is his novella “Iron Horse Gunsmoke”, which appeared in Masked Rider Western, July 1938. The novella was also released as a paperback by Curtis Books in 1965 with a Steve Holland cover. Thankfully, Bold Venture Press has made many of the Masked Rider Western issues available today as affordable reprints. In their series order, this novella is in Masked Rider Western #07 (2022).

Wayne Morgan is the former cowpoke turned masked vigilante that fights the typical western criminals like outlaws, cattle thieves, and land barons. He rides a horse named Midnight and partners with a Native American named Blue Hawk.

In “Iron Horse Gunsmoke”, the bad guys are buried in a feud between the railroad and the ranchers. The C.W. Railroad is clanging steel across the dusty mesa as modern ingenuity tames the wild, wild west. Like all of the traditional beef ranchers, they are opposed to bringing in the trains. However, the two factions benefit from each other. Trains make the beef sell faster and can deliver supplies quickly. The railroad needs cargo to haul, thus the ranchers are valuable. Each gain something from the other. 

In an effort to create abrasion, elevate hostilities, and stall work, someone leading a team of masked raiders is inflicting casualties and damage to the railroad and the Bar O. Each party feels that the other is responsible, thus a war brews between these two industries. Hoping to settle the feud and find the culprit, Morgan goes undercover as a cowpoke for the Bar O. As a covert operative, the fast-draw, eagle-eyed gunslinger can hopefully save the day.

Like Norman Daniels, Johnston McCulley, Gunnison Steele, and Walter Tompkins, Hobart proves he can write a Masked Rider Western tale with the best of the pulpsters. There's a lot of over-the-top action, brawls, and tough-guy talk to sop up the story, which in itself is just a traditional pulp told numerous times with different characters. 

“Iron Horse Gunsmoke” never slows down, racing through the narrative from the opening run 'n gun scene through the book's finale. If you like western pulps, then you'll love what Bold Venture Press is doing with these classic Masked Western Rider novellas. 

Buy a copy of the book HERE.


  1. I made that error also (Walter Tompkins), at one point, but having recently bought an X-library copy of Texas Renegade (1954-05-10 Macrae-Smith), I did my homework. Biography: Walker A. Tompkins was born on July 10, 1909 in Prosser, Yakima County, Washington. He was the son of Charle E. and Bertha Tompkins who had moved to Washington from Missouri. Tompkins grew up on a wheat farm in Walla Walla County before moving with his family to Turlock, California in 1920. He began his writing career in Turlock, at the age of fourteen, as a reporter for the Daily Journal. At the age of 21, he sold his first western novel to Street and Smith of New York, just before beginning college at Washington State. He also attended Modesto (California) Junior College.

  2. Did I see this same post about Donald Bayne Hobart and the Masked Rider series, back in May? Because I saw it before May 26 when I spotted one of his Masked Rider novels at a local St Vinnie's: Vulture Valley (1969-00 Curtis Books 123-06076-060 $0.60 127p uspb). Haven't read it yet, but it looks fun.