One of the most colorful characters in American history – Thomas Hart Benton — is responsible for the thriving central Arkansas community’s name. Located halfway between Little Rock and Hot Springs along I-30, Benton makes a perfect home base for those wanting to visit both communities while partaking of Benton’s charms as well.
The discovery of bauxite ore, the source ore for aluminum, is the reason this area of Saline County was settled. This is only place in the United States where it has been feasible to commercially mine the aluminum. The industry took hold in this area in 1899 with top output coming during World War II, when demand increased because German subs were sinking foreign ore ships. The mining thrived for many, many years before the high grade, low silica bauxite ore gave out.
The central Arkansas community Bryant bears the distinction of surrounding the geographical center of the state. A historical marker on Ark. 5 next to Pinecrest Cemetery in Saline County marks the spot.
Early residents of the town were pioneers of European descent traveling through the area on their way to Texas. When they came to Hurricane Creek, it was too high for crossing so they camped for several days while waiting for the waters to recede. As they explored the area, they fell in love with the scenic beauty of the forests and decided to stay.