After three long years of scrimping and saving to buy tickets for their passage to America, Roald and Ingeborg Bjorklund, along with their son, Thorliff, finally arrive at the docks of New York City. It was the promise of free land that fed their dream and lured them from their beloved home high above the fjords of Norway in 1880.
As they join the throngs of countless immigrants passing through Castle Garden, the Bjorklunds soon discover that nothing is as they had envisioned it. Appalled by the horrid stories of fellow immigrants forced to live in squalid living conditions, they continue their long journey by train as far as Grand Forks. From there a covered wagon takes them into Dakota Territory, where they settle on the banks of the Red River. But there was no way for them to foresee the price they will have to pay to wrest a living from the indomitable land. The virgin prairie refuses to yield its treasure without a struggle. Will they be strong enough to overcome the hardships of that first winter?