‘Bonanza’: Discover the Museum Dedicated to ‘Hoss Cartwright’ Actor Dan Blocker in His Hometown in Texas

by Emily Morgan

A museum in Texas is paying homage to the late Dan Blocker and his iconic role as Hoss Cartwright from the classic western series “Bonanza.” The O’Donnell Heritage Museum, located 45 miles south of Lubbock, TX, showcases Blocker’s life and history. Although he was born in another part of Texas, his parents raised him in O’Donnell.

The museum is in a 1925 two-story bank building that remains in its original condition. The exhibits showcase life in late 19th-century to 20th-century West Texas. Visitors can see the old-fashioned telephone system, a reed organ, bedroom furniture, kitchen equipment, blacksmith shop, schoolroom, post office, legal and doctor offices, a formal parlor, and a restored church congregation at worship, all from the era of “the old west.”

In 1910, the town of O’Donnell was established as a stop on the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railroad and was named for rail promoter Tom J. O’Donnell. Across from the museum is the old Blocker store, which is no longer in operation. Outside, tourists can see a hand-painted “Hoss” hat on the side of the building. Nearby, there’s also a bust of Blocker created by a local artist. The town dedicated the sculpture on July 4, 1973, a year after Blocker’s death.

Texas Town Pays Tribute to the Late ‘Bonanza’ Star

Before the Blocker family was famous for their “Bonanza” connection, the family opened a general store in O’Donnell. According to those who knew Blocker, his character on the show wasn’t far from the real man.

According to his friends and family in O’Donnell, his gentle nature was how locals remember him. When he left O’Donnell for college, Blocker quickly realized he was interested in acting, and graduated with a degree in speech and drama.

Blocker later moved to Los Angeles, California, with his wife, Dolphia. There, he began working on his doctorate while looking for acting gigs. He landed minor roles such as an appearance on “Gunsmoke.” In 1959, Blocker got his big break when he was cast as Hoss Cartwright, the middle son of Ben Cartwright on “Bonanza.”

In addition to acting, he also pursued a career in business. Blocker was a co-owner in a chain of steakhouses but had to close in 1972 when he underwent surgery for his gall bladder. Tragically, he developed a blood clot in his lungs and passed away at 43.

After his death, his hometown paid homage to the late actor by dedicating a park in his honor. Today, the park sits right next to where his father’s store was situated.