Fans plead ‘Save the Ponderosa’ |

Fans plead ‘Save the Ponderosa’

INCLINE VILLAGE – With the recent sale of the Ponderosa Ranch, the sentiments of worldwide fans of the television show “Bonanza” are centered on one plea: “Save the ranch house.”

It was announced July 9 that the Ponderosa Ranch, which takes its theme from the television western “Bonanza,” will be sold to Incline Village businessman David Duffield, who has not yet revealed his plans for the theme park.

In 1999 and 2002, several devotees of the show held their convention in the Lake Tahoe area, with the highlight being a pilgrimage to the Ponderosa Ranch, which has been an Incline Village tourist attraction since 1967. The next convention was planned for 2005 and was to include another visit to the Cartwright house.

Carla Ledford of Cincinnati, Ohio, co-owner of “Bonanza Legacy,” a Web site devoted to the television show, asked visitors to the site to voice their feelings via e-mail or phone calls to the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza.

In one afternoon, the paper received two dozen e-mails from as far away as Australia, Scotland and Argentina, and a similar number of phone calls from Florida, New York, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

While the fans of the show are aware few scenes were filmed there, with none filmed in the ranch house, they still say the house is a cultural symbol and should be saved.

“So why do I care? It’s simple,” Claire O’Neill of Edinburgh, Scotland wrote, “The show is about love, family and about having the courage to stand up and say what is right and to fight to preserve everything that is decent. The ranch house is a symbol of all that, set amidst some wonderful scenery.

“Is it progress to destroy that? Some things deserve to be preserved, to remind us that there is a haven from the stress of everyday life and a dream of a better world.”

Gillian Lubansky of Melbourne, Australia wrote, “I’m an Aussie, but I hold my memories of visiting the Lake Tahoe area and especially the Ponderosa very dear indeed, a very special place.

“I’ve been a long-time fan of ‘Bonanza,’ about 40 years at last count, and it has always been nice to know that I am not alone in the appreciation of a fine show that for many people was the ultimate western. I would be very sorry to hear the Ponderosa was gone. Saving the Ponderosa Ranch House would be a good thing.”

New York City resident Gail Lockhart was also disappointed as she and her husband had planned their once-in-a-lifetime trip to the 2005 convention.

“It was my all-time favorite western and we were so looking forward to seeing the ranch house and spending time in that atmosphere. We’re devastated,” Lockhart said.

Duffield has said he has no immediate plans for development of the Ponderosa property.