It is January, 1849. Fourteen-year-old Susanna Fairchild, her father, and her sixteen-year-old sister Clara are on board a ship, almost to the end of their long sea voyage from New York to Oregon, when they hear news of a gold strike in California. Susanna's desperate father, grieving after the death of his wife and nearly penniless after losing all his money, abandons his plan of establishing a medical practice in Oregon and decides to mine for gold in the hope of gaining back the money he lost. Writing in the diary left behind by her mother, Susanna describes life in a rough-and-tumble mining camp and the dangers she and Clara face when they are left alone for weeks at a time, such as bad weather, threatening men, and wild animals. But in spite of the many hardships they face, the two sisters grow closer and experience the joys of finding new friends and their first loves.
This report prepared by Rebecca Herman