A great piece of TV history is riding off into the sunset.

The Ponderosa Ranch (search), a theme park where the television show "Bonanza" (search) was filmed, closed last Sunday after its sale to a financier whose plans for the property are unclear. Locals say the land will likely be used to build new homes.

The show, which ran on NBC from 1959 to 1973, was the top-rated U.S. program in the mid-1960s.

The property with postcard views of Lake Tahoe (search ) along Nevada's border with California became a theme park in the late 1960s, after the show became part of American television lore.

In recent years most of the ranch's visitors came from overseas, where the show is still shown.

"We have known for a long time there are a lot international fans, a lot of people from Germany and the British Isles who come here looking for the Ponderosa Ranch," said an official of the local visitors bureau.

After the show became successful, "people came up wanting to know where the Cartwrights lived," said David Geddes, whose father-in-law was the original owner.