It was 640,000 acres, a thousand-square mile, as wide as the cities of Reno, Carson and Virginia City, a ranch on the northern shore of Lake Tahoe, high in the Sierra Nevadas, home to the Cartwright family.
There was a ranch smack dab in the center. It needed a sofa big enough for Hoss Cartwright, a place for Little Joe to court lovely ladies, and Ben to wonder whatever happened to Hop Sing, was that Zorro, and why did Adam leave home? *
Adam Cartwright, aka Pernell Roberts, became a doctor on Trapper John, M.D.
Hop Sing, aka World War II veteran, actor Victor Sen Yung, continued to cook for the Cartwights for all 14 seasons of the show. Afterwards, he created his own cookbook called The Great Wok Cookbook in 1974.
Will Cartwright, aka Guy Williams, as Ben’s nephew, replaced Adam on his departure in 1964. Guy Williams had previously played Zorro in the Walt Disney series of the same name.
P.S. did you wonder?
The show’s name Bonanza, and the title of its theme song, was inspired by the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode, a silver “bonanza” under nearby Mt. Davidson. The source of Ben Cartwright’s fortune is never fully explained in the show.
The time frame of the show is during and after the Civil War. In one episode, Little Joe courts the daughter of Judge Terry, a confederate sympathizer, hoping to become governor and influence Nevada on the question of Statehood. Ben responds with the memorable quote, “You will not bring the Civil War into my house!”
Ponderosa is a tall slender pine tree. In at least one episode, the Cartwrights get a big timber contract.