Amanda Bartlett runs away from her abusive husband, and finds herself in the gold-mining town of Old Dry Diggings. It is 1851, the height of the gold rush in the Sierra Nevada. She faces the unfamiliar challenges of making her way in a male-dominated society, establishing herself as a school teacher, meeting exotic strangers, and finding possible romance. This delicate balancing act is threatened when her husband comes to town. She must elude discovery.