Episode 12 - The Last Mustang

(16 December 1976)
Writer: Calvin Clements Jr.
Director: Walter Alzmann.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"According to my grandfather, legendary creatures once lived and some still existed on Waltons Mountain. There were tales of a bear so huge he had no fear of anything, a snake as big as a railroad tye, and a mythical white deer which could be spotted at the edge of a wood on a snowy evening. One creature we thought was legendary we went searching for one day, and found".


One of Grandpa’s tall tales comes true as a mustang appears on Walton’s Mountain. Grandpa recounts the fact that this mustang is a descendant of the horses brought over by Cortez.


Sheriff Ep Bridges visits the Walton’s while campaigning for another term as sheriff. Glen Oldfield is a real threat to his re-election because of his handsomeness, outgoing personality, and aggressive campaign style. When John-Boy interviews both candidates for The Blue Ridge Chronicle, Ep comes off as plain while Oldfield is seen as flamboyant. Grandpa compares Ep to the wild mustang—the last of his breed.


Oldfield and his aid, Arlo Jessup, visit john-Boy. Oldfield suggests John-Boy run off pamphlets for the campaign. John-Boy is uncomfortable doing this work for one candidate but not for the other. Oldfield convinces John-Boy it’s a business transaction and nothing else. Later, John-Boy receives unexpected advertising from Paulette Lumber in Scottsville and Miller’s Bootery in Rockfish and John receives an order from Hastings Saw Works in Richmond. Grandpa concludes these are paybacks for supporting Oldfield because Old Man Hastings “is the biggest political wheel in the whole state of Virginia”.


John-Boy attends the Baldwin sisters’ tea party in honor of Oldfield and Bridges. Ep’s quiet demeanor is lost to the charms of Oldfield’s outgoing personality. Afterwards, a dejected Ep tells John he does not know what he will do if he loses his job after fifteen years. Jessup takes John-Boy to their headquarters to ask him to join the team. He admits that Hastings is grooming Oldfield to be a state assemblyman; and their campaign is just a stepping-stone for the more important position. When John-Boy states the people need to know what Oldfield is doing, Jessup declares that what he said was ‘off the record’. But, John-Boy claims he never agreed and will publish his findings. Jessup, in no uncertain terms, predicts all future contracts and advertisements may be canceled if John-Boy prints the news.


Professor Ainsley, a naturalist from Boatwright College, comes to the house to find more information about the mustang. While he talks with Grandpa, Ben announces that Carl Muntner, a storeowner from Rockfish, has caught the mustang near Green Creek. Muntner hopes to attract customers to his store after seeing huge crowds attracted to a filling station that had a wildcat and monkeys on display. Grandpa confronts Muntner about capturing the mustang that he believes is owned by the Waltons. Without proof of ownership, however, Ep can legally do nothing about what Muntner has done. Zeb leaves angry because of Muntner’s actions and feels the horse may kill itself if left tied in the corral. 


On the way home John-Boy comes across the mustang that has broken its ropes. Muntner, who is trying to recapture the mustang, later stops John-Boy. John-Boy does not tell him he just saw the horse. Grandpa must now figure how to protect the mustang from further capture. At the same time, John-Boy must decide what to do about Oldfield’s carpetbaggery. John-Boy knows if he prints the news, his father will lose all contracts from Oldfield supporters. With John’s approval, John-Boy writes a front-page headline stating the underhanded intentions of Oldfield. When Jim Bob delivers newspapers the next morning, he special delivers one to Ep who breaks out into a big smile when he sees his opponent’s true intentions. A few days later, John receives a telegram stating his contract has been canceled.


After losing the election, Glen Oldfield stops by to apologize to John-Boy for hurting the family. With the headline stating ‘Oldfield Ambitions Revealed’ Oldfield admits he was wrong when he thought he could buy off people to win his campaign and realizes it was no way to run a political campaign.


Grandpa decides to brand the mustang so they will have proof  of ownership in order to allow it to run free. Grandpa, John, John-Boy, Curt, Jason, Ben, and Jim Bob corral the mustang, brand him, and release the horse back into the forest. With Ep’s re-election as sheriff and the mustang’s release back on the Mountain, two vanishing breeds are once again in their natural environments.


"The mustang remained free after that. We would see it from time to time and it always brought a rush of excitement and a feeling of being in touch with something primitive, and rare, and very special. Ep Bridges continued on as Sheriff for more years than anyone can remember, and Glen Oldfield, to no-one's surprise, became a member of the State Assembly".


Elizabeth: John-Boy?
John-Boy: Yes Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: If you ran for something I'd vote for you!
John-Boy: Well thankyou Honey, but I'm not planning on it right now.
Elizabeth: If everybody in the family voted for you, you could be President!
Ben: Elizabeth, you know how many votes it takes to be President? Millions!
Elizabeth: I guess we'll need a bigger family. (pause)Mama?
Olivia: Goodnight Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: Goodnight everybody!
John-Boy: Goodnight Elizabeth.
Ben: Goodnight.



Ep Bridges’ wife, Louella, has died sometime in the past.

Ep Bridges is 46 years old and has been sheriff for 15 years.

John Boy’s printing press has a brand name of Chandler-Price that was made in 1912. It is nicknamed a ‘snapper’.

John Boy is 20 years old.

John Boy’s car license number is 672 489.


Also appearing:

Miss Mamie Baldwin (Helen Kleeb); Miss Emily Baldwin (Mary Jackson); Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Ep Bridges (John Crawford); Curtis Willard (Tom Bower); Carl Muntner (Wayne Heffley); Glen Oldfield (John Fink); Professor Ainsley (Arthur Malet); Arlo Jessup (Alan Fudge); Campaign Worker (Asta Hansen).