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Ponderosa Ranch - The richest, largest spread this side of the Rockies on the western adventure BONANZA/NBC/1959-73.

Ponderosa Ranch

The Ponderosa was the family home of the Cartwright family headed by patriarch Ben Cartwright, (Lorne Greene) and his grown half-sons, Adam (Pernell Roberts), Joseph "Little Joe" (Michael Landon) and Eric "Hoss" (Dan Blocker).

According to the map seen at the beginning of each episode, this 1000 square mile timberland ranch was located in the Comstock Lode country between Virginia City and Carson City on the  north and the shores of Lake Tahoe on the south.

The ranch's cattle brand was a stick figure of a Ponderosa pine tree.Ponderosa Brand Ranch hands earned $30 a month which included a bunk house bed and all the grub they could eat.

Ponderosa Map

TRIVIA NOTE: The Ponderosa was also featured in the NBC TV-Movie remakes Bonanza: The Return (1993); and Bonanza: Under Attack (1995) and the prequel series PONDEROSA/PAX/2001-2002.

Sadly, in 2004, Nevada's Incline Village, a 570-acre Western theme park based on the Ponderosa Ranch closed its doors after its owners sold the property in July to Incline Village resident and developer David Duffield for an undisclosed price.

The highly successful Incline Village was created in 1967 by Bill Anderson, an equipment contractor and his wife, Joyce. Their re-creation of the Ponderosa was built at the exact location of the spot on the burning map seen at the beginning of each episode of BONANZA (whose producer's filmed for six-seasons at this site). W

hen it was open, visitors to Incline Village, Nevada near Reno discovered a replica of the Cartwright house and ranch as well as a petting zoo, a church, a gallows, a Hossburger stand, a memorial make-believe cemetery with headstones of Ben, Hoss and Little Joe Cartwright, and miles and miles of open air country used for shooting location scenery for this now classic western series.

 Annually, more than 300,000 people visited the Ponderosa. It was located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe in the Crystal Bay area, off Nevada 28 at 100 Ponderosa Road.

Background scenes from episode No. 49 "Ghost Town, U.S.A." on the sitcom THE BRADY BUNCH/ABC/1969-74 (part of the "Grand Canyon Trilogy") were actually filmed on the old BONANZA Ponderosa set.

When Michael Landon was honored on DEAN MARTIN'S CELEBRITY ROAST in the 1970s, Lorne Greene said that on Michael's first day on the set of BONANZA, he looked at the Ponderosa and said, "One day all this will be mine." Then, quipped Greene, "he loosened the brakes on my car."


Saga of the Ponderosa
(Sung by Lorne Greene)


[Spoken] "Before you right off into the night, my friends, here’s a story for the road. It’s my own story of the west…The Saga of the Ponderosa."


Behind me lay the stormy sea that I would sail no more,

The love that was so dear to me lay buried on the shore,

And my arms were holding my newborn son,

Reminding me that the past was done,

And the wind I heard, carried a strange-sounding word,

Ponderosa, Ponderosa !



The dusty road ahead of me was callin’ like a friend,

My hungry boots were itchin’ made to reach the other end,

Where the land was free and the years turned slow

With room for me and my son to grow

And the west winds came, bearing that strange-sounding name,

Ponderosa, Ponderosa !



My Adam was a yearling when we reached the Ole Missouri,

And I labored day and night to buy a wagon and a team,

‘Cause my hopes were in a hurry,

But suddenly my heart stopped me flat in my tracks…Like that !

‘Twas a woman, gay and pretty, sparkling with joy,

And I wanted her to share my dreams…

Our wedding cake was as light as down,

With a Valentine bride in a frosting gown,

And she was all things beautiful, and a mother to my boy

We started off together, on that February morn,

Through Nebraska down to Kansas,

Through the Spring and Autumn weather

To the edge of Colorado, where my second son was born

Husky, and jolly, and hardly ever cried,

My wife named him Eric…but I called him Hoss



My life was full of happiness, too wonderful to tell,

When, down upon our wagon train, there swarmed a savage hell,

Made of crying arrows and dying men,

And all my sorrows returned again,

And the wind wept through the sky,

Telling my dead Love goodbye,

Ponderosa, Ponderosa !



I took my sons and mothered them, but fear had left its shadow,

It seems they grew the farther on we went in Colorado,

For the land rose up, and it stood on end,

With a crown on top, cold and white,

And the days were made of ridin,’ and a-slippin,’ and a slidin,’

And my boys wouldn’t hide their fright,

I would wake up in the night and hear them crying in their sleep,

And I’d weep…

But they never knew, and somehow,

We got through



From Utah to Nevada, it was easy all the way,

We left behind that shadow, and it faded day by day,

For the sweet winds heralded a laughing tune,

The wagon wheels rumbled, “We’ll get there soon,”

And the ground all around, thundered that strange, rolling sound,

Ponderosa, Ponderosa !



Virginia City ! Boomtown ! Brash, Bold town,

Wired, Silver and Gold town,

Where I worked, and I jumbled, and I watched my fortune grow,

Till disaster dealt a hand I couldn’t play

Big Joe Collins was a friend, and my life woulda’ ended,

But he saved it at a cost of his own,

And his wife was alone, far away from the West,

And I couldn’t refuse his last request,

I made the sad and weary trip, and told her how he died,

And from the day I saw her tears, I couldn’t leave her side,

And the months flew by, like so many startled birds,

We both seemed to know without uttering the words,

And my friend would have wanted it so,

And I brought her west, and she became lovely as a mother,

So she gave my boys a brother, and we called him Little Joe



Well, it was time to find my land, and to build a dream I’d planned,

So I started off alone, and the wind led on me to a valley rich as Eden,

Where the trees were like a pillar for a temple,

With a wide, blue dome, and, all at once, I knew…

This place was home.



I asked an old trapper what kind of trees they were,

But he went right on draggin’ in his line,

Then he raised his ancient head, and I shivered when he said,

We call ‘em Ponderosa Pine

And on half a million acres of that strange-sounding name,

I staked my claim



My sons have grown to manhood, as the years have drifted on,

And each of them reminds me of a love that’s passed and gone,

But the strength that flows from the earth and the pine,

Warms my heart like a vintage wine,

With a love rich and strong,

For this is where we belong

On the Ponderosa,

Ponderosa,

Ponderosa !


"On this land we, put our brand, Cartwright is the name, Fortune smiled, the day we filed the Ponderosa claim"
  -- Bonanza (from the theme song lyrics)
   

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