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TV Shows and Series
Bonanza (TV Series)

What era or years was the TV show Bonanza based on?


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May 27, 2015 10:49PM

The producers say it was "set" in the 1860's. However, you can calculate further, by examining the evidence. (1) The first show (the pilot) was set in 1859, and the last show was in approximately 1870. (2) Little Joe's character was 17 when he first appeared in the show, which was the first show (the pilot). Little Joes mother died "on the ranch (most likely the Ponderosa ranch) when he was about 5 years old. But she never appeared in the show except in flashbacks, and Ben married Little Joes mother on the ranch, where she had Little Joe. Thus, though the show, including the pilot, was 1859 to <1871, the Ponderosa Ranch was there and occupied at least by Ben, the father, between at least 1847 to ~1870.

Based on its location in and around Carson city & Virginia city and a railroad being availble to California from Virginia city to Sacramento this would mean the Virginia & truckee had been built putting it Some time After 1871 and Probobly before 1885 when we may have seen additional steam apparatus in and around the area.

I believe this a close guestimate with only a 14 year span and since the show ran many years, perhaps we could say 1874 - 1880.