The 14-season run of Bonanza began with this introductory episode, originally aired on September 12, 1959, entitled "A Rose for Lotta." Guest star Yvonne DeCarlo plays renowned entertainer Lotta Crabtree, who finds herself duped into a plot against the Cartwright family and their ranch, the Ponderosa, located outside of Virginia City, Nevada. A cartel of businessmen led by Alpheus Troy (George Macready), Aaron Hopper (Barry Kelley) and George Garvey (Willis Bouchey), have been pressuring patriarch Ben Cartwright (Lorne Green) to sign over all the timber on the Ponderosa, to provide lumber that is essential for the continued operation of their mines; but Ben is equally adamant in his opposition, as the trees are essential to the future of the ranch and the land. Troy decides to use Lotta Crabtree as bait, to entice one of the Cartwright sons into Virginia City, where he plans to take them hostage and force Ben Cartwright to deal. Hot-headed youngest son Joe Cartwright (Michael Landon) falls the hardest for Lotta, goes to call on her, and finds himself trapped. But Troy hasn't reckoned with how the Cartwrights stick together, how far Ben and older sons Adam (Pernell Roberts) and Hoss (Dan Blocker) will go to protect one of their own -- even facing down a hired killer -- or just how resourceful Joe can be, even on the run, unarmed, from a pair of thugs who don't seem bright enough to know that they need him alive, or to avoid wrecking half the town.