Tuesday – April 14, 2015
We visited Benson, Arizona this afternoon. Benson is located in Cochise County, 45 miles east-southeast of Tucson. The 2010 census listed the population at 5,105.
The city was founded in 1880 when the Southern Pacific Railroad came through. It was named after Judge William B. Benson, a friend of Charles Crocker, president of the Southern Pacific. The railroad, coming overland from California, chose the Benson site to cross the San Pedro River. Benson then served as a rail junction point to obtain ore and refined metal by wagon, in turn shipping rail freight back to the mines at Tombstone, Fairbank, Contention and Bisbee.
The railhead in Benson was founded about a mile from a traditional crossing of the upper San Pedro River (known also as the Middle Crossing), used by the Southern Immigrant Trail and San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line. It was the site of the San Pedro Station of the Butterfield Overland Mail and a wagon depot, the San Pedro River Station, run since 1871 by William Ohnesorgen. In 1878 he had erected a toll bridge over which mining supplies were transported to the new mining camps such as Fairbank and Tombstone. Two years later this bridge marked the location of the railroad bridge that became the terminal site of Benson.
The city today is perhaps best known as the gateway to Kartchner Caverns State Park.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.