William Shatner, Joanna Pettet, David Janssen, Helen Hunt
The diary of Maggie Sergeant reveals the hardships of frontier life in this engaging movie. In March of 1867, Maggie, pregnant with another child, and husband John, along with their two young children, sell everything they own, leave their northeast home and head for Nebraska to settle land John had purchased from a railroad company.
He’d always dreamed of owning a ranch, of being a pioneer. But when they arrive at the parcel that was to be their homestead, in late April, they discover, the land had already been developed seven years ago and is now owned by a pair of brothers. John gets into a heated argument with the men, and Maggie distressed over the scene, loses her baby. Seeing that Maggie is in no shape to continue the confrontation, John concedes to the current owners, and John asks Maggie if she would agree to travel to Wyoming and make a life there.
In Wyoming, they find a parcel of land outside of Big Pines, next to a ranch belonging to rugged cowboy, Robert Douglas, and they begin leading the farming and ranching life John has longed-for, starting by planting wheat and vegetables.
The landscape is brutal, and soon the better life they sought becomes a daily struggle to survive, but they’re determined, John leaves Maggie and the kids to go file the settlement claim. As if the hardships and suffering couldn’t get worse, unexpected tragedy comes when Robert discovers John, has been killed while on his way home from town. Robert breaks the news to Maggie and brings her husband’s body back to her for burial and for the family to mourn.
As Maggie continues to tend the farm and take care of her children, she gets to know Robert and the surrounding neighbors. Still, she is living her dead husband’s dream, not entirely the one she would have embarked upon. When a prairie fire breaks out, endangering the lives and homes of everyone in the area, she must decide: stay and join her neighbors to fight the raging flames and save everything her family has built, or salvage what’s left and go back east.