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December 27, 2012

Twenty-Five Unnatural Wonders of the Western Roadside: Ponderosa Ranch (Incline Village, Nevada)

by Equestrian Influence

When “Bonanza” first went on the air in 1959, the Ponderosa Ranch where it was supposed to take place did not exist except as soundstages in Hollywood. Outdoor scenes were filmed at the north shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada; at the beginning of each episode, the titles appeared over a burning map that shoed exactly where Ben Cartright and his three boys (Adam, Little Joe, and Hoss) lived.

In the 1960s the program grew so successful that viewers started making pilgrimages to Lake Tahoe to see the ranch. An entrepreneur named Bill Anderson built it for them- faithful to the one on TV- and opened his hates in 1967, when “Bonanza” was number one in the ratings. Over the years, his attraction expanded from a mere ranch house  into a Western theme park that now includes the Church of the Ponderosa (where you can really get married), horseback trails, hay wagon breakfast rides (including Ben’s recipe for scrambled eggs and houseboy Hop-Sing’s sausage), and a lunch specialty named fo Ben’s fattest son: the Hossburger.

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