In the year 1846, sixteen-year-old Martha Burt and her family leave their homestead in Illinois and travel westward on the trail mapped out by Lewis and Clark on their return from the Oregon Territory to Missouri. The men in the wagon train were energized by dreams of free land and a better life for all, dreams sometimes incomprehensible to their womenfolk, who endured incredible hardships on the journey. The wagon train arrives in the Oregon Territory six months later, having survived sandstorms, Indian attacks, prairie fires, buffalo stampedes, and the death of many fellow travelers. Martha grows from a sheltered young girl into a competent woman. The pioneers are deeply saddened by the loss of so many loved ones, yet are filled with hope by the possibilities the future holds.