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Buncombe, Wisconsin Tunnel, Abandoned 1938.jpg

Buncombe, Wisconsin

The Buncombe Railroad Tunnel

The line north of Galena, Illinois was built of the 3' gauge by the Galena and Southern Wisconsin Railroad and reached Platteville, Wisconsin by January 1, 1875. In 1880, the franchise was sold to the Chicago &, North Western Railroad Company (C&NW), rebuilt to standard gauge, and then extended northward from Platteville to Montfort, where it connected with the existing C&NW track to Madison. As the route coursed north and south between Benton and Galena, it fol-lowed the flood-prone Coon Branch and Fever River valleys. A 350-foot long tunnel was constructed east of Buncombe to avoid placing the track along the winding Fever River. The northern opening of the tunnel is still visible. There was also a spur built along the course of the Hardscrabble Branch to Hazel Green, with another spur to the Kennedy Mine. Both of these spur lines passed through the village of Buncombe to connect with the main branch of the C&NW just to the east. In the heyday of the rail-road, Benton was visited with four passenger trains daily. As railway traffic decreased and the section between Benton and Galena suffered a number of washouts, it was abandoned in 1938. Benton then became the "end of the line," and a turntable was built there to maintain railroad service for the still active Vinegar Hill Zinc Company's National Roaster located between Benton and Cuba City on Co. Hwy J. The track remained in place to Cuba City until the early 1980s, when a lack of use caused its abandonment.
The former community of Buncombe was located just to the west of the turn onto Kennedy Road, where the Bull and the Hardscrabble Branches join the Fever River. It was at this location that a railroad spur went north to the Kennedy Mine and another northwest to the Village of Hazel Green. Although the little community of Buncombe was served by a post office from 1875 to 1903, today only a few broken foundations remain where once a store, school, and several houses existed well into the 1950s. .


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Randy Curwen 07-Jul-2019 00:21
Randy Curwen
Zach Bennett was my great grandfather too. Grew up on farm he bought more than a century ago. It is still in the family (and worked by my first cousin Kevin Bennett). Easiest access to tunnel is from our land, but since we don’t own the tunnel itself,we can’t (officially) give permission to acces from our land.
Zach, by the way, was best known as Coonie. He may have been murdered by bootleggers during prohibition when he raised their rent.
Tammy Stagman 02-Aug-2018 20:15
Doug Stoxen,there are a couple cemeteries near there that I have relatives buried at. One is up the road in Hazel Green and the other is Shawnee Town outside of New Diggings. I would not call either depressed though.
David Sincock 13-Mar-2018 01:05
I grew up on the farm that this tunnel is on. The farm is historically owned by my Mother's family, The Beebe family. Mom tells stories that as a child Hobos traveling the rails would often come to their farm house for meals. Grandma always gave them a meal. My grandfather would tell of hopping on the train at Buncombe and riding on top of it to Galena, which of course went through the tunnel. The tunnel is visible from the road only during the winter. You can even see through the tunnel from the right spot. During the Summer the foliage hides the view. It was a great place to hike and explore as a kid.
Tammy Bennett Stagman 04-Aug-2016 02:42
How nice to read these posts. Zachariah Bennett was my great grandfather. We were chased away from this railroad tunnel regularly as children. We so wanted to explore it.
Michael Fiedler 21-Nov-2015 01:50
I go down Buncombe Road and the road to Galena every fall and can never locate either tunnel; are either close to a road? One time I ended up in a farmer's lane and saw an old railroad bridge kind of on an island in a pasture right at the state line.
Lorri Hocking Barnes 14-Nov-2013 21:25
My name is Lorri Hocking Barnes. My email is lorribarnes at yahoo dot com. My father is Paul David Hocking and His father was Charles Alfred Hocking married to Ellen Cecellia McGloin. His neice is Norma Baxter who currently lives in Rockford, IL. My father had 7 daughers. Oldest was Dorothy Anne, who passed away in 2007. Next is twin sister Deborah Jean. Next is Catherine Ellen, next is Myself, next is Linda Elaine, next is Michelle Renee, Final is Jennifer Lynn.
I am sitting in Kauai right now with my Father Paul Hocking and we decided to research some of this info. Please feel free to contact myself or Paul at hockingpe at yahoo dot com.
Guest 02-Jun-2013 09:27
Did you ever find the pictures of the cemetery? Doug Bennett Stoxen, dbstoxen@aol.com?
John Marvig 03-Dec-2012 07:57
Hello, my name is John. I would like to access this tunnel and I am wondering how you accessed this tunnel, as well as the Strawbridge Tunnel. I ask that you reply to me using my email, as I am really hoping to get back to these structures this winter.
Mary 13-Oct-2012 17:57
I would like "Guest" to contact me if you are still reading this post. Thanks.
William J. Manon Jr.08-Oct-2012 03:44
Dear Hocking, Bennett, Stoxen Family

I have noticed that this page has become a depository for Hocking, Bennett, Stoxen Family History. i think this is a great thing but I am the only one that can see all your Email addresses, so in an effort to get all of you connected i would like to request that you add your email address to the body of your message if you want other relatives to be able to contact you in the future. I have forwarded all message on to Doug, Sheryl, Mary & Beverly. I hope this helps you all in your quest for more Family history.
Beverly 05-Oct-2012 03:43
My Grandmother was Lavinia L. Hocking 1866-1929 married to Philip Edward Conlon 1861-1908. Her father was William Hocking 1821-1905 and her mother was Eleanor Jenkins 1824-1914. William's parents were William James Hocking and Ann Burley. Eleanor's parents were John Jenkin and Eliza ? John Jenkin's father was Edward Jenkin 1770-1835. His mother was Elizabeth Elvins 1773-1830. Lavinia Hocking Conlon was married a second time to Thomas Bennett Dec 1,1923. Thomas died in 1924. Lavinia and Philip E. Conlon are buried in St. Rose cemetery in Cuba City, Wi. William Hocking and Eleanor Jenkins are buried in Hazel Green. I have a photo of both gravestones. Thanks to whomever placed the newer stone there that I might find it! I have a photo of William Hocking and Eleanor Jenkins with a grandson Mattie? I would be pleased to share this with others interested in this line. Has anyone had a family member with a genetic heart valve problem? I have. That is what caused my grandfather Philip E. Conlon's death at a young age. So glad I found this site thanks to searching for Buncombe and finding these relatives. My email address contains two numbers one and six. Beverly
Beverly 04-Oct-2012 22:19
My grandmother was Lavinia L. Hocking Conlon Bennett, 1867-1929. Her husband was Philip Edward Conlon,1861-1908, who died young of valvular heart disease. They are buried in St. Rose Cemetery, Cuba City, WI. After his death she married a Thomas Bennett Dec.1,1923 who died in 1924. Lavinia's parents were Willam Hocking 1821-1905 and Eleanor Jenkins 1824-1914. William James Hocking and Ann Burley were Willam Hocking's parents.
Eleanor Jenkins parents were John Jenkin and Eliza ? John Jenkin's parents were Edward Jenkin 1770-1835 and Elizabeth Elvins 1773-1830. I have a photo of Eleanor and William Hocking with a grandchild, Mattie? Are there any photos of my grandparents Lavinia and Philip Conlon and family? I have 2 cemetery photos one for William and Eleanor and one for Philip and Lavinia. Does anyone have a descendant with heart valve disease? I know of one.
Guest 26-Oct-2011 08:04
My relatives in the area are Thomas B Bennett born 15 March 1856, died 10 May 1924. He waas married to Alice Hocking, born 26 September 1874, died Janurary 1951. They had my grandmother, Bertha Jan Bennett born sometime in 1901. There is no record of her birth date except her grave marker. She died in Rockford, IL 25 November 1965. I think that Thomas B Bennett's mome was Elizabeth Bennett, born 1824 in England. That's all I have. I am looking for Bertha's grand parent's names and dates. From what I've heard, Alice Hocking Bennett owned part of a local lead-zinc mine near Buncombe.
Mary 10-Sep-2011 00:00
Sheryl, please contact me. My grandfather is Thomas Bennett, son of Zachariah Bennett and Ellen Hocking. Zachariah is William Bennett and Elizzabeth Burley's son. I actually have some pictures of the Bennett's and Hockings--Ellen Hocking and even Elizabeth Burley. My Uncle Larry Bennett had done some genealogy before he died and he sent my mom some pictures. Mary.
Sheryl Simpson 15-May-2011 03:08
Hi Doug, I wanted to see if the Hocking's and Bennett's in my family tree were related to yours. My great grandmother was Ellen McGlynn Hocking from Vinegar Hill,IL who married Charles Alfred Hocking who was born in 1877 in Benton & died in 1944. They lived in the Benton-Hazel Green area until they moved to Rockford, IL.

Charles 's father was William Alfred Hocking born in 1851 in Benton & died in 1899 and his mother was Rebecca Bennett born 1853 in Montreal Canada and died in 1931 in Vinegar Hill. Charles Hocking's grandfather was William Hocking born in 1822 Cornwall,England & died in 1905 in Buncombe and his grandmother was Eleanor Jenkins born 1824 in Cornwall & died in 1904 in Buncombe. Charles Hocking's great grandfather was William Hocking born 1796 in Cornwall, England and his great grandmother was Ann Burley born 1800 in Cornwall, England.

Rebecca Bennett's father was William Bennett born 1820 in Cornwall, England & died in 1864 in Buncombe and her mother was Elizabeth Burley born in 1820 in Cornwall & died in 1918 in Buncombe. They were married in 1845. Rebecca's grandparents were Thomas Bennett and Sarah Grace Burly.

My mother said the Hockings and Bennett's on her mothers side worked in the mines as did the Baxters & the Cassidy's who are on her father's side. I would love to hear back from you.
Doug Stoxen 13-May-2010 05:57
My ancesters lived and worked in Buncombe in the mines. I spoke to my 88 YO Aunt last week and she told me about the place a bit. Somewhere near there is a cemetary with my great great grandfather and mother and my great mother's family. I remember visiting it as a boy 50 more than 50 years ago. It was severely depressed, I remember. I've been looking for information on it but can't find anything. My grandmother's family were Bennetts. Grandfather, and great grandfather were Stoxens, Louis Stoxen and his wife Mary lived near there. My great grandmother was a Hocking and she owned a small piece of one of the mines.
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