Eleven-year old Jennifer decides to humor her father by listening to entries in an old journal stored in the family trunk. Much to her surprise she becomes intrigued by the journal's writer, her ancestor, Jenny Case, a spunky New York farm girl who travels to the Michigan Territory in 1836.
The Case family's journey begins along the Erie Canal on a boat owned by Jenny's young aunt and her difficult husband. Along the way Jenny befriends an orphan whom Mr. Case soon adopts. The two youngsters' adventures, combined with their determined protection of the orphan's wolf-dog, create drama and suspense both on the canal boat and the steamboat that the family takes across Lake Erie.
Once in Detroit the Cases buy a wagon for the remainder of the trip to their new home. But the excitement does not end as the family is forced to cope with wolves, crude inns, and a cabin that does not quite match its sales description.
"Erie Trail West" involves the adventure, humor, accurate research, and cast of delightful characters for which Janie Panagopoulos' books are known. Added to this is the richness of the family's love and integrity that is reflected in every episode of this delightful story.