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Old 07-05-2009, 05:51 PM
Location: Manchester NH
2,317 posts, read 2,625,146 times
Reputation: 3230


It all started with a trip to Hudson NH yesterday to see the Benson's Wild Animal Park exhibit at Hills Library

Also caught this cool Caddy Sedanette in the parking lot

In 1922 John Benson bought a 200 acre parcel of land and used it as a quarantine center for jungle animals entering the US destined for zoo and such. Eventually he started allowing people onto the property to view the animals for a small fee, finally it became a full fledged animal park. Though John Benson died in 1943, his name was linked with the park for the sixtyplus years it remained.

Arthur Provencher purchased the park in 1979, realizing a long time dream. Some dreams however should not be realized as Arthur also inherited a park that was in dire need of updating as none of the previous owners since Benson reinvested anything into upkeeking, and finally in October of 1987 after many near foreclosures, refinancings and other problems the park was closed.
Yesterday we got the history , today on the bike we went back to see the remains, located off route 111 in Hudson.

These two abandoned building greet you on the left as you enter the front gate ( trade secret as to how I got in..sorry )

Graffittii is everywhere, even the Old Womans shoe

This is where Collossus the presidential minded gorilla dwelled ( he died at a nice old age in 2006 in case you were wondering)

People are working hard on this property to restore many of the buildings and to make it a walking park, but it will never be the same. Bensons was world known in it's hey day with both stars and dignitaries flocking to it's gates. Benson's was also a very special place to Linda, here are a few childhood shots her there

With the Zebras

On her favorite ride

With the then man in her life, her dad

Her and her cousin Pete, she wants to know what happened to teh stone animals

Leaving Benson's we decided to revisit Searles Castles in Windham. we backroaded it and came upon a few sights along the way

A brief history of Searles

It was here we noticed the "funny" angle of the top exhaust pipe

Some naughty nuts and bolts abandoned their posts, leaving the rear potion dangling. Thankfully I am a veteran Harley owner and well prepared to deal with impromptu repairs. Armed with a piece of string I had the pipe semi securely tied in no time!

So onward to the castle itself ( hey Graham, I half expected you to dart through the castle doord to greet me. The Searles castle was hosting a private function so we did not venture into the court yard, here are some outside shots though

On the way home some hardware was purchased and the exhaust system returned to it's former. more secure state. it was an eventful day that deserved to be topped off with a a worthy meal, so we went to KC's ribshack where I ordered the Cardiac Sammie

Pulled pork, pulled chicken, bacon, cheese, roasted red peppers, lettuce and garlic with chipotle mayo, yep I can still hear them arteries slamming shut even now.
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Old 07-05-2009, 06:39 PM
Location: N.H Gods Country
2,359 posts, read 4,340,999 times
Reputation: 1965
Awsome post, thanks.
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Old 07-05-2009, 09:04 PM
Location: Monadnock region
3,712 posts, read 9,331,896 times
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Ah, Benson's! I remember going to Benson's. Thanks!
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:26 PM
Location: So Cal
132 posts, read 303,947 times
Reputation: 147
Thanks for the pics and story. Can't wait to see what's in store for us next weekend.
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Old 07-06-2009, 05:46 AM
Location: Vermont
3,290 posts, read 8,551,074 times
Reputation: 1928
Cool! My favorite "lost" amusement park is Fantasy Farm up in No. Lincoln. Be sure to take pics if you ever get up there.
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Old 07-06-2009, 01:46 PM
87 posts, read 190,125 times
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I was just talking about Bensons a couple weeks ago when we were at the Bronx Zoo.

Nothing else seems to compare to Bensons!!!! The grizzly bear was the best.
The Bronx has a couple but you are about 100 to 200 feet from them, at Bensons you could smell them they were so close
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Old 02-17-2012, 07:40 AM
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For more news on what's going on at Benson Park (as it is called now) check out Friends of Benson Park, Inc. or Stats about all US cities - real estate, relocation info, crime, house prices, cost of living, races, home value estimator, recent sales, income, photos, schools, maps, weather, neighborhoods, and more

If town warrant article 14 passes (with no tax impact) there will be a great BWAF museum in the old elephant barn.
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Old 02-17-2012, 08:50 AM
485 posts, read 1,091,852 times
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I've taken the kids to the "new" park and it is great. The playground is tremendous and landscaping looks awesome. Almost too good to be true. I hope it stays maintained.
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Old 02-17-2012, 10:13 AM
Location: Northern NH
4,551 posts, read 9,861,102 times
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I went to college in that castle it was c
alled Castle Junior College.
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Old 02-17-2012, 02:07 PM
Location: Southern New Hampshire
4,541 posts, read 11,745,815 times
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The Volunteer Committee has done an outstanding job of bringing back Benson Park back to life. It'll never be Benson's Wild Animal Farm again, nor should it be. The zoos of today provide habitats for the animals, and they are so much happier & healthier than they were back then. I guess we've come a long way While you won't find transplanted wild animals from other countries there now, you will find plenty of wildlife, like hawks, sunning painted turtles, beaver, heron and so much more. The Old Woman's Shoe, I believe was an Eagle Scout project, and when I was there, it was bright red and just beautiful, just like I remember as a kid. Actually, it probably looks even better than when I was a kid (we have a way of remembering things through rose-colored glasses...)

Definitely go there, especially if you grew up going to Benson's.

http://snhhome.com/HudsonNH/TonysHome.jpg (broken link)

Last edited by Valerie C; 02-17-2012 at 02:22 PM..
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