Bonanza (1959–1973)
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Enter Mark Twain 

The Cartwrights help Virginia City reporter Samuel Langhorne Clemens investigate suspected shady goings-on between a railroad company and a local judge.




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Episode cast overview:
Dorothy Green ...
Minnie Billington
Patrick McVey ...
Bill Raleigh
Edmon Ryan ...
Daniel Lash (as Edmund Ryan)
Judge Jeremy Clarence Billington
Lash's Foreman
Anne Whitfield ...
Rosemary Lawson (as Ann Whitfield)
Blurry Jones
Robert Carson ...
Arthur Lovejoy ...
Dr. Ephram Lovejoy


The Cartwrights help Virginia City reporter Samuel Langhorne Clemens investigate suspected shady goings-on between a railroad company and a local judge.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

mark twain | See All (1) »







Release Date:

10 October 1959 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sam refers to "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country", one of Mark Twain's short stories. See more »


In a discussion between "The Enterprise"s publisher Bill Raleigh and writer Sam Clemens, Bill uses the term "comic strip"; however, according to, the term "comic strip" (despite the actual existence of serial illustrations in newspapers) wasn't established until 1900, well after the 1860s, in which "Bonanza" is set. (see "Memorable Quotes") See more »


Bill Raleigh: Are you afraid "The Enterprise" won't print any story you happen to dig up?
Samuel Clemens: You know, I had a little bet with myself that you'd go along with me.
Bill Raleigh: Sam, this is a newspaper, not a comic strip - you come up with a story, and "The Enterprise"ll print it!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits are scrolled over the Ponderosa map with a different instrumental version of the "Bonanza" theme. See more »

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User Reviews

The Mississippi Comes To The Ponderosa
16 August 2009 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

In this episode from the first season of Bonanza the fictional Cartwrights meet up with a young writer named Samuel Langhorne Clemens who did in fact spend some time in Virginia City during the Comstock Lode silver rush. It is here we learn how Clemens who had been using the pen name of Josh got to find the name that he became immortal with.

Howard Duff guest stars as Clemens and he's writing for the Territorial Enterprise and decides to also do some investigative reporting. Edmon Ryan is a ruthless railroad executive who is looking to grab off chunks of the Ponderosa for the line, something the Cartwrights just won't allow. Ryan's bought the territorial judge though in the person of John Litel who has a wife in Dorothy Green, but he's also up for re-election at the time as it turns out.

The wit of Sam Clemens is brought to bear on the judge and he proves to the Cartwrights and the rest of us that the pen really can be mightier than the sword even if it needs some swords or in this case guns to back it up. In the process he comes up with the name we know him all by today, Mark Twain.

As you would expect from this subject the episode is handled with wit and though Howard Duff was quite a bit older than the real Sam Clemens was when he was in Virginia City, still he carries the part off well.

One of Bonanza's better episodes.

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