Logger Jim Hadley (Alan Ladd) and his lumberjack crew are looking for new forest to cut. They locate a prime prospect outside the town of Deep Wells. The residents of Deep Wells led by Laura Riley (Jeanne Crain) are opposed to the felling of the trees, believing that losing them would cause mudslides during the heavy rains. Conflict between the town's residents and the loggers is inevitable.Alan Ladd as Jim Hadley
Jeanne Crain as Laura Riley
Gilbert Roland as Monty Welker
Frankie Avalon as Bert Harvey
Lyle Bettger as Clay Bell
Noah Beery Jr. as Blackie (as Noah Beery)
Verna Felton as Aunt Sarah
Alana Ladd as Jane Peterson
Regis Toomey as Sheriff Taylor
Johnny Seven as Vince
George Selk as Amos Stearns
Paul E. Burns as Bill Burroughs
Henry Kulky as Logger
Louis L'Amour's novel Guns of the Timberlands was published in 1955. L'Amour had become popular with Hollywood following the success of Hondo and the novel was optioned by Alan Ladd's company, Jaguar, in 1955. Ladd offered a lead role to Van Heflin, hoping to reunite his old co-star from Shane. He also wanted Raymond Burr.
The working title for the film was "Shasta".
In 1957, it was announced the film would be made from a script by David Victor and Herbert Little, and to be produced by Albert J Cohen. Subsequently, Alan Ladd completed two TV pilots with Aaron Spelling. Spelling's work so impressed Ladd that he made Spelling a producer on his next picture, The Guns of the Timberland. Robert Webb and Joseph Petracca had just written The Proud Rebel for Ladd; Webb was hired to direct Timberland from a script by Petracca.
Van Heflin never appeared in the film. Jeanne Crain and Gilbert Roland signed to support Ladd, along with the latter's daughter Alana. Frankie Avalon, who just had a hit single in Venus, signed to make his dramatic debut in the film. Avalon later said, "I'm sure the reason why Warner Bros. said, 'Let's get this kid' is that he has lots of fans out there and he's getting 12,000 to 15,000 fans letters a week. 'Let's put him in a picture with a guy like Alan Ladd'."
Avalon's performance led to his casting in The Alamo.
Filming started April 1959.
The film was shot on location in and around Blairsden, California, Graeagle, California, and other locations throughout Plumas County. The scenes involving the steam engine and railroad cars were shot on the Western Pacific Railroad right-of-way. The scene where the steam engine goes over the tall "bridge" was shot using the Clio trestle.
Filming finished in June 1959.
In the film, Frankie Avalon sings two songs, "The Faithful Kind" and "Gee Whiz Whillikins Golly Gee", both were released on a 45 rpm single in 1960.