The Sandy Steele Adventures   

Sandy Steele Adventures
by Roger Barlow

Taking it on the chin was sort of a Steele family motto.  John Steele had no use for whiners or whimperers, boys who complained that their coach didn't like them or their teacher was unfair.  He had always taught his son to be dogged.  "It's the dogged men who get things done, Sandy," he would say.  "Even if most of the world's applause often goes to the flash-in-the-pan."

Remembering this, Sandy lifted his chin and tried to grin.  "What do we do now, Dad," he said, "punt?"

Mr. Steele smiled. "That's the spirit, son," he said.

— page 31, Stormy Voyage

Simon and Schuster attempted to break into the series book market in 1959 with the launch of the Sandy Steele Adventures.  All six books were published simultaneously in late 1959.  In order to accomplish this, the books were all written at the same time by different authors, which resulted in a few minor inconsistencies to the series.
Titles in the Sandy Steele Series:

  1. Black Treasure, 1959
  2. Danger at Mormon Crossing, 1959
  3. Stormy Voyage, 1959
  4. Fire at Red Lake, 1959
  5. Secret Mission to Alaska, 1959
  6. Troubled Waters, 1959

Research by Ernie Kelly has attributed the authors as follows.  #1 Black Treasure and #4 Fire at Red Lake were written by Robert H. Leckie.  John Ott wrote #2 Danger at Mormon Crossing.  Jack Pearl wrote #3 Stormy Voyage and #5 Secret Mission to Alaska.  John Stephen Doherty wrote #6 Troubled Waters

The books are similar to the Biff Brewster Adventures.  Sandy Steele lives in Valley View, California.  Mr. Steele works as a geologist for the government, and his work takes him to mines around the country.  Sandy sometimes travels with his father to these locations.  Sandy always has a friend with him, and the friend varies from one book to the next.  The friend is most often Jerry and sometimes either Quiz or Mike.  Whoever goes with Sandy on a trip is his companion in high adventure.  All of this parallels the Biff Brewster series.

The books were originally printed in hardcover with dust jacket.  The books were produced inexpensively with cheap boards and pulp paper that is now quite yellowed.  The books were reprinted in the mid-1960s in softcover editions by Tempo Books, a division of Grosset and Dunlap.  The Tempo books also have pulp paper that has yellowed.

The series did not do well, so building a complete set can be difficult.

My Sandy Steele Blog Posts

  #1 Black Treasure                                                            1959
Sandy Steele and Quiz Taylor enter the Regional Science Fair with a project that shows how petroleum can be located beneath the earth.  The boys are disappointed when their project loses to Pepper March's creation that transmits sound via a light beam.  Sandy and Quiz's spirits rise when John Hall, owner of a small drilling company, invites the boys to work with him all summer as he hunts for oil in the Four Corners area.

The boys learn about the history of the Indians of the Four Corners region as well as how to locate oil and uranium.  Pepper March also works in Four Corners with Red Cavanaugh, who is disliked by all.  Sandy and Quiz are certain that Cavanaugh is up to something, so they try to find out more about his past.  Quiz is called home early, but he promises to find out more about Cavanaugh.  The boys feel that Cavanaugh has told a false story about his football career, so Quiz plans to investigate.

Black Treasure
Sandy boldly searches for clues as to what Cavanaugh is doing and has several harrowing adventures.
  #2 Danger at Mormon Crossing                                      1959
Sandy is thrilled to be asked to accompany Mike Cook and his father on a month-long camping and hunting trip along the Lost River in Idaho.  Mr. Cook hires an Blackfoot Indian guide named Joe for the duration of the trip.  Joe tells the group about how the Indians killed a group of Mormon settlers at Mormon Crossing around 100 years ago.  Once Joe learns that the group's destination is Mormon Crossing, he seems desperately eager for the group to leave immediately.  Sandy is certain that Joe is hiding something, perhaps connected to the massacre of the Mormons.

Later, Joe is knocked unconscious while readying their boat.  Joe claims that he fell and bumped his head, but witnesses saw three Indians at the dock.  Sandy becomes more certain that Joe is not telling the truth.  Despite Joe's injury, he insists that the group leave the next day.

Danger at Mormon Crossing
As the group hikes along the river, Joe continues to act nervous, and soon, Sandy realizes that they are being followed.  Not until Sandy and Mike are forced to face the people who follow them do they learn what is really going on.
  #3 Stormy Voyage                                                           1959
John Steele has been assigned to spend the summer in Minnesota searching for high-grade ore, since the Mesabi mines are now producing only low-grade ore.  Sandy and his friend, Jerry James, join Mr. Steele in Minnesota, planning to get jobs at the mines.  Their plans change when they learn that no jobs are available.  Instead, the boys are hired as part of the crew on one of Mr. Kennedy's long boats, which carries iron ore. 

Just before the long boat leaves port, the boys learn that a new deposit of high-grade ore has been discovered in the mines.  Mr. Kennedy had told the boys that he is about to sell his ships due to the lack of high-grade ore.  The information about the high-grade ore has not been made public, and the boys wish they had been able to tell Mr. Kennedy.  Onboard, Sandy learns that Captain West is part of a conspiracy to keep Mr. Kennedy from finding out about the high-grade ore.

Stormy Voyage
Unfortunately, Captain West proves to be a formidable opponent, and Sandy and Jerry find themselves helpless as they try to figure out a way to let Mr. Kennedy know about the high-grade ore.
  #4 Fire at Red Lake                                                         1959
Sandy's Uncle Russ invites Sandy, Quiz, and Jerry on a month-long hiking trip through the woods of Minnesota.  The trip takes an unexpected turn when a forest ranger rouses the group in the middle of the night so that Uncle Russ can call Washington from the ranger station.  Uncle Russ learns that a bomber jet blew up near the Canadian border.  The crew was killed, but most of the wreckage has been recovered—except for the A-bomb that was on board!

Uncle Russ is tasked with finding the A-bomb, so two Geiger counters are airlifted to the group at the ranger station, and the search begins.  The Geiger counters remain silent with no trace of the A-bomb—and then disaster strikes!  A forest fire starts with the wilderness in the midst of a drought.  The boys worry about the consequences should the fire come into contact with the A-bomb.

Fire at Red Lake
Uncle Russ, Sandy, Quiz, and Jerry join the firefight.  The job is grueling, and the fickle winds make the fire impossible to contain.  Can the fire be extinguished before the unthinkable happens?
  #5 Secret Mission to Alaska                                           1959
Sandy and Jerry join Sandy's father and Professor Crowell on a trip to Alaska.  Professor Crowell breeds sled dogs, and his team will compete in a dog race in Alaska.  Sandy and Jerry will help take care of the dogs.  As the group drives along the Alaska Highway through Canada, they become aware that one or more persons are interested in their actions.

An intruder ransacks their cabin, apparently searching through Professor Crowell's belongings.  Later, a plane flies low over them, shooting at them.  A slip of the tongue finally reveals that the trouble has something to do with enemy agents.  Sandy's father refuses to give the specifics, but Sandy knows that his father has a secret mission in Alaska.

Meanwhile, Sandy and Jerry are granted permission to ride along on the sled during the dog race. 

Secret Mission to Alaska
The race turns out to be much more harrowing than the boys could ever expect.  Lost in a blizzard, Sandy and Jerry must use all of their survival instincts in order to survive.
  #6 Troubled Waters                                                         1959
Uncle Russ has given Sandy a brand-new sailboat, and he wants Sandy to sail it home to Valley View from Cliffport.  Jerry goes with Sandy so that he can teach Sandy how to sail.  The boys spend an entire day in the boat, with Jerry teaching Sandy everything he knows about types of boats, types of sails, and most importantly, how to sail Sandy's boat.

That evening, Sandy and Jerry leave Sandy's boat at anchor in the harbor and go to a hotel to spend the night.  A strong storm breaks out, and the boys worry about the boat, since it was not secured to a permanent surface.  In the morning, the boys' worst fears come true when they discover that Sandy's boat has vanished.  Fortunately, their dinghy is still there, so the boys set off in it, hoping to locate Sandy's boat.  The boys find Sandy's boat off the coast of an island—or so they think.

Troubled Waters
Too late, the boys discover that the boat does not belong to Sandy.  They find contraband inside the boat, and they realize that the boat is owned by criminals.  Suddenly, the boys find themselves at the mercy of those criminals and in a fight for their lives.
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