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Benson

Tour an Arizona town that celebrates its Old West past

In the annals of Old West history, Benson tends to get outshone by its legendary neighbor to the south, Tombstone. But closer inspection of the record shows that Benson enjoyed a role in 19th-century U.S. westward expansion that rivals that of its flashier counterpart. Benson served as a vital hub for the Pony Express, the Butterfield Stage and the burgeoning railroad. Today, this artistic, tourist-friendly community, which rests against the rugged backdrop of craggy mountains and expansive forests, preserves its heritage with loving care for all to see.

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Ride Into Regional History

Benson’s rich railroad history is the centerpiece of the Benson Area Museum in historic Old Benson. Here, outdoor murals celebrate the laborers and barons who built the town into a major stop along the vital transportation artery.

Seeking to have an authentic railroad experience? The San Pedro & Southwestern Railroad holds a prime place in Benson travel history, and today’s visitors can enjoy a 52-mile excursion along the same track once used for mining operations in nearby Bisbee and Douglas. The train travels through the scenic San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and the eerie ghost town of Fairbank.

Saddle Up

Before steam trains surged across the Old West, drivers navigated horse-drawn coaches across rugged terrain to transport passengers, cargo and correspondence. Today, Benson’s Butterfield Overland Stage Days every October celebrates this colorful era. Events include a parade, car show and tractor pulls. A Pony Express ride celebrates the town’s role in the short-lived cross-country mail route.

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Natural Beauty Abounds

Rising to the east of Benson are the Dragoon Mountains, part of the Coronado National Forest. Here, you’ll find Cochise Stronghold, a natural fortress of granite cliffs and domes that served as a base of operations for the legendary Apache chief of the same name. It’s also reputed to be Cochise’s final resting place. The Cochise Indian Trail—a hiking and equestrian trail—extends 5 miles. The views from this trail are unbeatable.

For More Information

Benson Visitor Center

520-586-4293

www.bensonvisitorcenter.com

 

Arizona Office of Tourism

866-275-5816

www.arizonaguide.com