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09. Benson Southwestern Smelter
& Refining Co. c. 1900
Benson Smelter, c. 1900
Mural Depiction

If you look to the northeast of downtown you will see a water tower with a large "B" on it. That hill is the taller one shown in this mural. A smelter was operated off and on between 1882 and 1914. Benson, was the perfect place for a smelter being the rail terminus for all the other railroads running in the San Pedro River basin. Mines from Bisbee and points north all had some or all of their ores brought to Benson for final processing before being shipped East or West on the Southern Pacific Railroad.  The photograph to the right was the basis for this mural.

Photograph of Benson Smelter, c. 1900
Background Information

Benson served as a supply center to the mines in the Johnson, Patagonia, Helvetia and Yellowstone mining districts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Although Benson was not itself a mining town, a small smelter operated here between 1882 and 1885, and intermittently through 1914. It treated silver ore carrying a high lead content from various mining localities, including several thousand tons of ore from the Flux Mine in the Patagonia Mountains. 

Ore was shipped to the Benson smelter operated by Salisbury & Co. Raw ore was shipped from distant locales to include the Schuylkill Mine at Chloride in Mohave County, the silver mines in Tombstone and Charleston, and from milling operations along the San Pedro River to the Benson smelter for treatment.

Located on the southeast side of Benson's Tank Hill, the smelter treated silver and gold, averaging an annual value of $723,122 during the early years of operation. Later, the smelter was shipped to Mexico. 

Information provided by Arizona Daily Star, June 7, 2015,  Mine Tales: Smelter in Benson operated until 1914.

Mural Information

Artist:  Doug Quarles

Size:     5' x 8'

Completed: November 2013


   City of Benson

   Arizona G & T Cooperatives

   Benson Beautification

   Benson Jr. Women

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