Joe and his friend Ned went fishing. While on the lake they saw a storm approaching rapidly. Ned, being rich, had fancy clothes that were not waterproof, because of this they needed to find shelter and fast.
Joe knew the location of an abandoned log cabin that was near the edge of the lake they were on. Once safely inside of the cabin, they heard two men talking. From what they were talking about, the boys figured that the men were fugitives from the law.
A third person arrived telling the other two men that he had fifteen thousand dollars worth of stocks. The trio agreed on splitting the money equally; then the fugitives departed.
Joe goes back home just to find out that his cabin had collapsed and that his uncle had been killed. This forced Joe to fend for himself and to earn money. His uncle before he died told his nephew that he had hidden a blue box in their cabin. This blue box he said was filled with money and expensive documents.
Joe makes a living by ferrying people across the lake. Soon he is hired by a hotel owner to take his clients around the lake in his small rowboat. Joe is given a bigger boat, then he is given the honor to be the master of all the boats that are owned by the hotel.
One day a man from Minnesota arrives at the hotel for which Joe is working. The man receives two visitors who are supposed to be his colleagues. One of the men had come to buy some old papers which were supposedly expensive. A few days later the man who had bought the papers showed up at the hotel again and told the owner that he had been scammed. Joe finds out that the man from Minnesota and the other man were the people from the old log cabin which Joe and Ned had overheard.
Joe goes to Philadelphia so that he can find a job at one of the large hotels. On the train ride there he meets an old farmer who said that if Joe needed a place to stay during the winter he would gladly receive him as a guest in his house.
Joe tries to find a job for himself but can not find one since all the jobs paid too little or they needed skilled and experienced workers. After a while, he meets his former employer and gets a job at a hotel. Another boy was fired because Joe was a better candidate. The other boy was an ill-tempered smoker and bully that had promised to pound Joe into the ground so that he could get his job back.
One day Joe was sent on an errand to go and bring some groceries back to the hotel. On the way back the boy who was fired tried to attack and beat him, but Joe dodged his punch and beat up his enemy. Then he went safely home without any more trouble. His bunkmate hears about this encounter and warns Joe that he will probably get targeted by the boy and his gang.
One of Joe's friends is in love but cannot get married to the woman of his dreams because she is the daughter of an army man. Said army man only wanted his daughter to get married to a man of valor, not some random, cowardly person. Joe had an idea; his idea was that his friend would enter into an argument with another man and then duel him which would show to the general that Joe's friend was brave.
Joe is getting ready for bed when he smells smoke, so he goes to investigate. In the laundry room, he finds a fire so he tells the manager about it. The manager commands Joe to wake up all the guests and to evacuate them. So Joe goes and spreads the news from door to door. The manager calls the fire department just in time to save his hotel. Joe is still in the hotel, he was looking to see if there are any more guests inside and he finds an old lady. The shocked woman faints into his arms because she is afraid that her bird would burn to death. Joe loses his job at the hotel because the hotel was almost burned to the ground so he goes back to his hometown, Riverside.
When Joe arrives back at Riverside, he goes to the location of his old home which was destroyed and makes a fire. He sees a small log that is rotten and has a good idea. Like any other boy, Joe was never allowed to play with fire, but because his uncle died he could play with it as much as he wants. So with a boy's curiosity, he set the log on fire. Inside the log, he spots something, he sees a tin can that is painted blue. He opens it up and inside it, he finds important documents and one hundred dollars worth of cash. Joe notices that on one of the papers it was written that Joe's pa had sold his farm in Iowa. Now Joe has a lead to where his father might be.
Joe goes west with one of his old friends who asked him to go and review a mine with him. When he arrives in Gold Pass he meets a young westerner who is very friendly. They become friends and together they look for Joe's dad. They ask the friend's dad if he knows anything and he says that Joe's dad worked at his mine.
Joe hears somebody shouting for help. He goes to investigate and sees somebody being robbed. So Joe, like a hero confronts the robber and restores the victim's money only to find out that the man he saved was his father.
Joe moves in with his father and they live together.
Everybody lives happily ever after.