In 1871, Richard DuFour, a factory engineer from Saratoga, New York, receives a telegram from the Federal Government requesting his assistance in the development of a nitroglycerine factory in Creek Canyon, South Dakota. The copper industry is booming, and DuFour’s expertise will facilitate its growth. He convinces his wife, Pamela, to leave their family inn in the care of her sister so that she and their ten-year-old son, Johnnie, can accompany him.
As the family sets out on their journey, DuFour experiences an almost overwhelming sense of doom in the form of a vision in which people are crying out in terror. In their travels, they witness a tornado in Indianapolis and experience the effects of the Chicago fire. Once in Creek Canyon, DuFour assists an old medicine man who has been cruelly harassed by some cowboys.
Disturbed, DuFour reports to work and immediately tells the sheriff about the abuse he witnessed toward the native man. But the authorities and the local residents aren’t as compassionate: they believe that the Indians are holding up mining operations, and they don’t take kindly to DuFour’s act of supporting them. It’s soon evident that Dufour must fight against the very people he was set to help.