The struggling Shady Rest Hotel is further jeopardized when a no-nonsense vice president of the C & FW Railroad is dispatched to investigate the apparently forgotten spur line that connects the towns of Hooterville and Pixley.
Kate uses a combination of charm, subterfuge, and wiles to prevent Homer Bedloe from catching the Hooterville Cannonball and getting to Pixley in order to initiate proceedings that would permanently terminate the train's operation.
Hard-hitting railroad president Norman Curtis travels to Hooterville with the intention of unceremoniously terminating the Cannonball's service, but he has a change of heart when he experiences Kate's hospitality and kindness.
Uncle Joe spends Kate's money to buy cases of lousy men and women's cologne to make a fast buck reselling it. The money was intended to put screens in the hotel that will keep mosquitoes from chasing away paying guests, so Kate has to find a way to get money for cologne no one wants before she doesn't have any guests left.
When Kate talks Bobbie Jo into going on a double date with Billie Jo but Bobbie Jo turns out to be a dud, Kate sets out to teach Bobbie Jo how to make some "hot rhubarb" with the boys.
Mrs. Gladys Stroud, a renowned hotel critic, decides to come and review the Shady Rest after she is accidentally sent a brochure uncle Joe made. This was the vision of what he hoped the hotel would one day be, including indoor ice rink, bowling alley, and swimming pool. Now the family has to scramble to keep her from finding out the truth and closing them down for lying.
Herby is depressed when he gets drafted, so the girls cheer him up by suggesting he could be an astronaut. Uncle Joe hears this and decides he needs promote Herby's future political career to the whole town. When Herby gets a discharge for minor medical problems, Kate finds a way for him to save face with Bobbie Jo and the rest.
When Bobbie Jo brings home a mad-at-the-world young poet and slacker who has won her heart, Kate has to figure out how to show her his true stripes.
When the Junction needs money to stay afloat, Uncle Joe convinces two rich women the hotel is a reducing farm.