In 1848, the seventeen-year-old son of a Pennsylvania dairy farmer yearns for the wealth and adventure of the California Gold Rush. In his own words, he tells the story of sailing from New York around South America to San Francisco. After two winters and a summer in the Sierra Nevada mountains, he is driven from his claim by an unlucky accident. He flees overland, forced by circumstances to detour through Texas, where he lives for another two years. Five years after leaving, he returns home with a wealth of tales to tell.