Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I grew up watching the television series Bonanza. I was really too young to remember Adam, but my parents assured me he had been there and left. That left Ben, Hoss, and Little Joe (and Candy and assorted other characters). I enjoyed the show, but it wasn't until I several years ago when I discovered the treasures of the internet that I learned that the program was set in Lake Tahoe.

Fast forward many years. My wife and I are planning to stay in Lake Tahoe for part of our 25th anniversary trip. I enjoy tv and pop culture trivia. Hey...let's check out where Bonanza was! Great idea! I popped online and tried to triangulate our position. However....

1. Most of the outside shots were done on sound stages or on locations waaayyyy far away from Lake Tahoe.

2. The famous opening sequence was filmed in at least two different locations. Some of the land is now private property. Given enough time and patience, I could possibly compare photographs and get an approximate location. But that is a project I may have to wait on (although it isn't that far from here...we'll see!)

3. The famous Ponderosa Ranch was a popular tourist attraction around these parts. Sadly, it was closed down in 2004 and no longer exists.

Sooooo...what to do? Simple...we went where Ben and the boys would visit Sheriff Coffee and get supplies: Viriginia City. Virginia City is the location of the famous Comstock lode, which created a (get ready) bonanza of wealth for the region. It is also famous in real life as one of the homes of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. It's a town full of history, from the board sidewalks to the uneven stone buildings (many of them rebuilt after a devestating fire in the late 1875 wiped out 80% of the town). It's a short drive from Carson City (the state capital), unless you go the wrong way (thanks to a navigational error on my part). The looonnggg way is full of very tall, very sheer mountain driving--not our favorite---and seems to go on forever. The short way is actually not too bad at all.

We were too late for the train tour, but we did get in on the trolley tour, where we learned all sorts of historic trivia about the city and its inhabitants. It was a pleasant place, but the walking takes a little attention, with steep hills and very uneven wood sidewalks. Traffic along the street is also tight, with cars, pedestrians, the aforementioned trolley, and tour busses vying for room on the road. If you come early enough, you can purchase a pass for the train, trolly, and several of the museums. Here's a few random pics:
On the Virginia City Trolley, ready for departure

Historic school building...the Fourth Ward School Cultural Center

Presbyterian Church...only one of the few buildings to survive the great fire of 1875

Catholic Church. According to the tour guide, this church was a mega-church in the 1800's, with 4000 members! Incredible.

And the adventure continues....

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