California in 1860 is a tough place to live, unless you're Daniel Dillon (Peter Mullan). Having made a fortune in gold, he now successfully owns and runs Kingdom Come, a sprawling prospecting town nestled between the snowscapes. Daniel has designs on turning his town into a city, but to do that he needs the railroad and so invites Dalglish (Wes Bentley), the chief surveyor of the Central Pacific Railroad expedition, to conduct a survey of the surrounding area. But just when he thinks he is about to put himself firmly on the map his long lost wife Elena (Nastassja Kinski) and their daughter Hope (Sarah Polley) appear. Twenty years earlier he had traded them in for the original claim that would later found his town. And as Dillon seeks forgiveness his world begins to falter.