The "Unofficial" Spooky Places News Pages

The Ponderosa & Virginia City

The following news and information is from the Virginia City, NV trip.  June 7th-14th 2002

The Ponderosa and Lake Tahoe

Please note the Ponderosa Ranch was not officially part of the Spooky Places program and will not be seen on the show.

Many of us remember Virginia City, NV as one of the towns the Cartwright's would visit while doing business or getting supplies on the well known TV series Bonanza.  Ever notice the map that burns is turned sideways?  Yes they have the East at the top of the map.  The Ponderosa is on the East side of Lake Tahoe and showing it covers the entire east side of Lake Tahoe.   It's about 40 miles long (north and south) and about 25 miles wide of mostly steep mountains where grass land is hard to find, the dirt is nearly sterile and only certain things can grow there.  Grazing grass is something that's not easy to find even now but was even harder to find then!  Do you remember what the Cartwright's main source of revenue was?  Wasn't it cattle?  The land around this area is steep and about the worst land in the world for trying to raise cattle on if you had to depend on grazing land yet the Cartwright's supposedly made a fortune there.  Do you want to really know what they did for a living ?  They made over 400 episodes of Bonanza, that's how they made their living.  ;-)  Was Bonanza shot there on location?   Shots of barn and the house where and a lot of other location shots.  Virginia city shots were done on a back lot at Warner Brother's Studios in Burbank, CA..  The house and ranch are situated near the north end of the Ponderosa map just a few hundred yards off the highway and yes if you go there you can tour the location and go through the house just as we did.

The Bonanza show was developed and shot for the purpose of advertising a particular product, do you remember what that product was?  I'll give you a clue, color TV's had just come out.  Yes the show was shot for the purpose of advertising and selling color televisions.

You may wonder why I'm talking about the Ponderosa and the TV show Bonanza and what all this has to do with Spooky Places but did you know that 3 of the 4 men who stared in this series are dead now?  Wonder how many others died here or who have returned here as ghosts?  Could the Ponderosa be haunted?  You bet it is!

The Ponderosa House

This is the front side of the house and it faces the barn just as you saw it on many episodes of the TV series Bonanza.  The front of the house actually faces the barn and the mountain and the back of the house faces the tourist area and the highway.

In the show the house is shown as a two story house but it is not, it has no second story.  So where do the stairs go to anyway?  Nowhere!  They go up and around the corner and that's where they end.  So when they showed the upstairs area of the house what were they showing?  See that area of the house that jaunts off to the right of the picture?  That's the room where they recreated any of the extra rooms they needed while shooting the show.  There's a hidden doorway there in the wall to the main house and it slides closed or opened as they needed it.  They showed bedrooms and all kinds of things but there are no bedrooms anywhere in the house.  What ever they needed they recreated in that side room and when they were done with it they simply removed it and built something else in there.

The Burning Map!

This map shows the area of the Ponderosa covering nearly the entire East side of Lake Tahoe.  It shows the Ponderosa house being at the East side of the Ponderosa territory when in reality it was on the far West side right near Lake Tahoe.  Had it been where they show it on the map it wouldn't have taken more than about a day to ride into Carson City but where it actually is it would have taken about two days to ride to Carson City or to Reno.  In the TV show however they showed them going into Virginia City more often than any where else.  Getting to Virginia City however would have required them to go around near or through Carson City because of the mountains being very steep to the West and North of Virginia City.  Yes they show a road there but that road going between the Ponderosa and Virginia City doesn't really exist as far as I can tell but the one going between Virginia City and Reno did exist but was very steep.  I know the highway there now is very steep and winds through the mountains.  Back then it would have been very challenging to ride or walk that distance but no doubt many people did.

The Big Room and fire place!

Inside the Ponderosa house you have seen the big fire place many times, here you see Laura and Kristy standing in front of the fire place and at the point of the white arrow behind them if you look very close you will see a small ghost orb.

To the right you will see the end of the Cartwright's gun rack.

The Front Door

And guess what, they don't even use the front door anymore!

Please notice at the end of the white arrow there's a softball sized ghost orb.

There's a ghost orb right at the ceiling in this picture.

I caught several other smaller ghost orbs in the house but it's time to move on to Virginia City.

Shows the sliding door that hides the hidden room where they constructed anything else they needed while shooting the show.  Notice the ghost orb over the wall and stove pipe.

Virginia City, Nevada

Was a gold rush town that went from nothing to a large city back in the 1800's because some man struck gold there.  To make the story even more interesting while they were mining their gold they had to contend with some sticky gray mud that drove the miners crazy.  They later discovered the gray mud was in fact silver dust.  They mined more than 400 billion dollars of silver out of the gold mines along with the gold of course.

In the 1800's Virginia City was a thriving metropolis with many thousands of people but now it's a ghost town with it's main business tourism.  People visit here from all over the world intent on gaining some idea what life may have been like here when this was a booming big city.. 

See the Red Dog Saloon there on the right, that was originally the "Long Branch" yes they tell me that was "Mrs. Kitty's" saloon from the days of Gun Smoke.

The city is a lot longer than what the pictures show here and has one main street and two "main" side streets now.  Of course there are many smaller side streets that go off in different directions around the city.

It's a rather odd place to visit as most of the shops open around 10am and close promptly at 5pm.  Between 10am and 4pm it's hard to find a place to park but around 4pm you can see the tourists leaving and by 5pm you wonder where most of them went to.  By 6pm the only things left open are the bars and 3 or 4 places to eat.

Almost any direction you look you can see a mine excavation sight and the skeletons of numerous lifting mechanisms that were used to extract the ore from the mines.

The ghosts out number the population and tourists of this little town and every local has their ghost stories to tell.

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