History of Benton, PA

The Benton Dam

The Benton Dam in winter.

Benton, PA is a small town located within Columbia County and is home to around 1,000 residents.

The town was named for Benton Township, established in 1850 in honor of Senator Thomas Hart Benton, who served for thirty years and was defeated in 1850 over the slavery question.  A post office was established in 1852.

Community growth in Benton, PA primarily took place after 1860, coinciding with the growth of the lumber and tanning industries north of town.

Throughout history Benton, PA experienced many fires:

  • Built in 1872 on the corner of Main and Market Streets, the “Exchange Hotel” prospered until it burned in the virtually uninsured $300,000 fire of July 4, 1910, along with 38 houses, 48 barns, the post office, bank, People’s Department Store, Odd Fellows hall and other commercial businesses.
  • The Rohr McHenry Distilling Company burned in 1911.
  • Three fires in 1913 included an incendiary fire which destroyed the Presbyterian Church, a fire which destroyed the planning mill of R. T. Smith and Son, and one which destroyed a shirt factory and adjacent dwellings.
  • A silk mill, a hotel built in 1886 known as the McHenry House, Hotel Moses van Campen and a pharmacy were later victims of fire.

As a result of the town’s history with fire Benton, PA built a dam ponding two acres of water five years after the 1910 fire.

The 19-acre Benton Town Park is a popular summer attraction.

Benton, PA Rodeo

The Benton Rodeo

Benton Rodeo

A 44-acre recreation area developed in 1975 is the site for the annual Benton rodeo and the “Out Among the Stars” bluegrass festival.

The Benton Rodeo in mid-July is considered one of the best of over 65 rodeos east of the Mississippi River, as voted by the American Professional Rodeo Association and draws cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country as well as Canada.

The Benton Area Rodeo Association is a non-profit organization whose goal is to stimulate tourism to the Benton area to provide fund raising opportunities to the Local Charities, Service Groups, Fire Companies, Ambulance Associations, Scouts and Churches.

Columbia County and the Susquehanna River

Columbia County, in the heart of Pennsylvania, is noted for its rural beauty and outstanding quality of life.  It is home to rolling farmlands, State Game Lands, Forests and Parks, nature preserves and the Susquehanna River and her tributaries.

Fishing Creek, in Columbia County, is a tributary to the Susquehanna River and is well-known fly-fishing stream.  Anglers come from near and far to fish in Fishing Creek in Benton, PA.

Ricketts Glen State Park in Benton, PA

RIcketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park in the fall.

Ricketts Glen State Park in Benton, PA is one of the most scenic areas in Pennsylvania. Ricketts Glen State Park is located in Benton, PA along Route 487.  The 13,050 acres is comprised of five townships and three Counties – Luzerne, Sullivan and Columbia County.

The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has named Ricketts Glen one of “Twenty Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks”, citing its old-growth forest and many waterfalls and its status as a National Natural Landmark
Ricketts Glen in Benton, PA offers an array of activities for all to enjoy:
There are three primary attractions at Ricketts Glen – 26 miles of hiking, Lake Jean, and 24 waterfalls.

Places to Stay in Benton:

Places to Eat in Benton:


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