As the Civil War rages, the Hitchcocks head from Pennsylvania toward the Rocky Mountains, certain they'll find gold! Thirteen-year-old Eda keeps a journal as they travel through hostile country and take shelter in a broken-down cabin. The Hitchcock girls are unaccustomed to roughing it. Everything seems strange and frightening until Eda's 17-year-old sister Belle gets a job, and Eda nad her oldest sister, Lucy, meet an unusual family of actors. The sisters are just settling in when Pa decides the family should return home.
But as they travel, they meet near-tragedy and are forced to stay in rough-and-tumble Denver. Penniless and freezing, they're herded into a tent city with nothing left but a few clothes and tattered memories. Eda's certain they'll never escape. That's when she meets an "enemy" who teaches her the most important lesson she'll ever learn...