Join Chris B. for a walk in Benson Park. It is a 166-acre, passive recreational spot open to the general public and is the pride of the local residents. Full of rich history, Benson Park was once home to "Benson's Wild Animal Farm". Benson Park Hiking Trail is a 3.3 mile loop trail and is good for all skill levels. The trails are both paved and natural with mild elevations.
A little History
John T. Benson, born in England in 1879, was an animal trainer and dealer who traveled extensively and became United States manager of German's Hagenbeck Company prior to World War II. Mr. Benson purchased over 200 acres of land in Hudson, New Hampshire in 1922 to house the various animals he obtained, as Hudson is conveniently located approximately one hour north of Boston, Massachusetts. When these animals were brought to the United states, they first needed to be quarantined, then often were trained and shipped to circuses or zoos. Thus, the quiet farming community of Hudson, New Hampshire became the location of "The Strangest Farm on Earth."
Local residents began to stop by the property trying to glimpse some of the exotic creatures-definitely not ordinary farm animals! The Boston and Maine Railroad Station was located behind what is now known as the Wattanick Grange Hall, so it was not unusual to see a mini parade of animals from the train station in Hudson Center to nearby Benson’s. In 1924, Benson opened the Farm to the public. While he did charge a small entrance fee, Hudson residents were allowed in at no charge. Benson’s became a popular place to visit on the weekends. Soon, people were traveling from all over New England to visit Benson’s and Mr. Benson began to expand the farm, adding various attractions, rides and concessions each year. Mr. Benson died in 1943. Benson’s was sold and continued to be a major tourist attraction until it began its slow decline in the 1960s. In 1979, Arthur Provencher, a Nashua native, became the new owner and worked hard to add new attractions and make the place viable once more.
Unfortunately, due to many circumstances, New England’s Playworld Amusement Park and Zoo (renamed so in 1987) closed at the end of that same year. The State of New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) purchased the land for approximately $4 million in 1992. The Town of Hudson and NHDOT agreed that the Town of Hudson would acquire the property at a very reasonable price, with stringent restrictions, preserving the rest of the land as a passive recreation park.
Bring a bag lunch and sun and/or bug lotion.
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