A Brief History of Benson
The Town of Benson, which derives its name from early settler Alfred Monroe Benson, owes much of its historical development to the railroad line that passed through the present location in town in 1886 on its route between Fayetteville and Contentnea.
Mr. Benson's purchase of a 402-acre tract along the Smithfield - Fayetteville Road in 1874 initiated the settlement of the area now known as Benson. During the 1880s Benson sold portions of his original tract to incoming settlers, many of whom were farmers. The Town of Benson was incorporated in 1887 and soon attracted a number of entrepreneurs wishing to take advantage of this new town along an important transportation route.
In 1924, an article appearing in a local paper describing the physical appearance of the town, stated:
"Within the past decade (Benson) has made rapid strides in different phases of improvements and now presents to the visitor a neat, clean little town sprinkled about with a goodly number of lovely homes, handsome churches and school buildings, a modern brick hotel, (and) two large banks, the Farmers Commercial occupying one of the most expensive and up to date buildings in the state."
Although the "modern brick hotel" is gone, much of the Benson of 1924 remains today. And, because of that, in 1984, 54 acres of the town, the center of which is the downtown business district, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This historic district is comprised of the entire downtown business district and several blocks of surrounding residential neighborhoods.
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Benson, North Carolina is a town of approximately 3,581 residents in Johnston County, 22 miles south-southeast of Raleigh. Situated at the intersection of I-95 and I-40, the town is within a two-hour drive of the Atlantic coast and three hours from the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town is positioned roughly at the mid-point between Miami and Boston.
Sandwiched between two river basins, the Neuse and the Cape Fear, where North Carolina's Piedmont Region meets the Coastal Plain, the Benson area is blessed with a temperate climate, rich soil and long growing season. These factors combined to assure that agriculture would play a key role in the growth of the community.
Although agriculture remains important, recent years have seen a broad diversification of the eastern North Carolina economy, particularly in manufacturing and biotechnology. Thanks in part to its fortunate location at the crossroads of two major Interstates, Benson finds itself at the heart of this robust new economic activity.
You can't really talk about the Town of Benson without mentioning lifestyle. Here, just beyond the edge of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill metro area, residents enjoy the best of two worlds: close enough to big city diversions, yet far enough away to preserve the relaxed, small town, family-centered way of life that makes Benson so special.
Thanks to our mild four-season climate, outdoor recreation helps define the Benson lifestyle. Our outstanding Parks & Recreation department keeps the community active with a full slate of team sports, senior programs and swimming and tennis activities. Golf can be enjoyed year round, and the surrounding area has bountiful opportunities for fishing, hunting, boating, camping and hiking.
Benson citizens love a good get-together, and the biggest in Johnston County takes place here every September. Benson Mule Days began as a harvest festival to honor the surrounding farm community and its beast of burden, the mule. Today, an estimated 50,000 annually attend the three-day celebration featuring parades, beauty queens, rodeos, street dances, bluegrass music, arts and crafts, and barbecue.
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