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Welcome to Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa!

Incline Village & Ponderosa Ranch
Lake Tahoe, Nevada



     This wooded clearing was once located in the center of Incline Village at Lake Tahoe, Nevada. In June 1961, the cast and crew had come up to film outdoor shots for two episodes, "Land Grab" and "Gabrielle" at other nearby locations. Stock footage was filmed of all the cast members at the clearing, that is so memorable, with the Mount Rose Peaks in left frame, panning across to Herlan and Ellis Peaks, above Sand Harbor in the right frame, as they ride across the clearing. The stock footage would be reused through the main run of the series through the 1969-70 season. This treed clearing is no longer at the community, due to the building of the Incline Village Championship Golf Course and adjacent homes in the 80's.


























Ponderosa Ranch Photo 1
The Ponderosa Ranch replica, which was built in summer of 1967, seen here in August 2001.


Ponderosa Ranch Photo 2
Left-side view of the house, while the first tourists of the day, line up to go inside the house.


     The cast and crew would travel to Incline Village in summer of 1959 as a starting point for filming around the Lake Tahoe basin. The only filmed footage at Incline Village was filmed in June of 1961 of the cast riding their horses through a wooded clearing with the Mount Rose Peaks in the background, for establishing shots that would be edited in with many episodes over the years. The film site was covered over by the Incline Village Championship Golf Course and adjacent homes sites in the 80's.

     Contractor Bill Anderson who worked at Crystal Bay met producer David Dortort in 1961 and he would stable the horses there. While filming that year, Anderson and his crew would cut roads through filming sites in and around the lake for filming access and build fake outbuildings for exterior shots. In the third and fourth seasons, some of the end screen credits on the show would credit Anderson's construction company at Crystal Bay, Nevada.

     In 1967, Anderson approached David Dortort with the idea of building an exact replica of the house exterior in Hollywood and take the soundstage designs of the ground floor and incorporate them inside the exterior. Anderson wanted fans of the show to see what the real Ponderosa would look like at Lake Tahoe and with the financial backing of Dortort and NBC as well as Landon, Blocker, and Greene, he made his dream a reality. He picked a vacant 600-acre lot right past Sand Harbor, where the original Incline Village settlement was once located at, but had moved down the shore in 1959 for expansion below Mount Rose Summit.

     The gates opened in July of 1967 and the cast would make appearances there through the thirteenth season of the show in 1971-72. Incidentally, in the shows filmed at Lake Tahoe from 1967 and 1968, at the end credits, the Ponderosa Ranch would assume fake screen credit for tourism. The upper property that later would be developed into the Wagon Camp was where some filmed footage for season ten's "Salute To Yesterday" was filmed at in June of 1968. For decades, over 250,000 tourists visited the park and museum, also known as "The Anderson Tour Trap." In the early 2000's, the business was slowing down quite a bit, and in 2004, the property was purchased by a Silicon Valley businessman named David Duffield. The last day the ranch was open to the public was September 26, 2004. There are no plans to reopen the park into the forseeable future.

     The only filmed footage of the Ponderosa Ranch was filmed stock footage in June of 1968 of the house and grounds from a location platform by the second filming unit, that would be edited in as an establishing shot in several episodes down the stretch. Nothing was ever filmed inside, as the house was not equipped for filming. NBC publicity photographers would take 35 mm still photos of the cast inside the replica and that was all, for promotional purposes as for books and postcards. In 1988, when David Dortort began making his "Bonanza" TV-films, he had the walls torn apart and refitted them with sliding walls for limited filming inside.


Ponderosa Ranch Photo 3
Standing under a Ponderosa pine, on a very cool August morning, just as I came off the Wagon Camp ride, looking at the house.


Ponderosa Ranch Photo 4
There is just one thing missing; the tree with the foliage that grows on the roof, which was a stage prop, where the real set was located, at Paramount Studios, in Hollywood, Ca.


Ponderosa Ranch Photo 5
Looking at the lakeshore, at the ranch, with the petting zoo just below.


Ponderosa Ranch Photo - 6Ponderosa Ranch Photo - 7Ponderosa Ranch Photo - 8
Ponderosa Ranch Photo - 8aPonderosa Ranch Photo - 9Ponderosa Ranch Photo - 10
Ponderosa Ranch Photo - 11

To see enlargements, please click on the photos above!

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Incline Village & Ponderosa Ranch Page - 2

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