Benton County was founded in 1836 and was the first county in Arkansas. Agriculture was the primary business of the county with pears and apples among the main crops. Today, poultry and cattle are important products. Benton County’s location on the Ozark Plateau provided serene beauty and plenty of recreation. The White River originates on the plateau and is a world-class trout river. Beaver Lake is the northern-most lake along the White River. Completed in 1966, Beaver Lake has 487 miles of shoreline. There are cabins, resorts and lodges around the lake, along with over 650 campsites. Popular pastimes around the lake include fishing for largemouth bass, crappie and catfish, sailing, boating, and scuba diving.
Well-known historical areas of interest in Bentonville include the site of the Battle of Pea Ridge (located just five miles from Bentonville) and Pea Ridge National Military Park and Memorial Park. Memorial Park also houses the Ford Aquatic Center with an Olympic-sized pool and a 52-foot water slide into a separate diving pool. A wading pool features a raindrop fountain. The park has lighted tennis courts, ball fields, and two playgrounds. Other Bentonville city parks include Lake Bentonville Park – featuring a fishing lake with docks, a pavilion, picnic areas and play structures –Orchard Park, which consists of a skateboarding park, sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, and hosts many community and family friendly events throughout the year, and Park Springs Park, which offers a scenic nature trail through 18 wooded acres as well as a playground and picnic areas.
Historic buildings in Bentonville include the Benton County Court House, built in 1928. The neo-classic building was designed by A. O. Clark and cost approximately $200,000 to construct. A. O. Clark also designed the Massey Hotel. In addition to being a hotel, the building also served as a train ticket office, radio station, gift shop and barbershop. Today, the Bentonville City Library is housed in the Massey Hotel. The Ole’ Applegate Place Country Store is located on the square in a restored building in Bentonville’s historic downtown. The town square also houses a Civil War statue, and beautiful gardens with benches and fountains.
The Andy Lynch Log Cabin was moved from Brightwater, Arkansas, to the site of the Peel House. This pre-Civil War cabin functions as the gatehouse and gift shop for the Peel Mansion. The Peel Mansion is by far the most famous of the historic buildings in Bentonville. Built in 1875 by Colonel Samuel West Peel, the Italianate home has been accurately restored and furnished to the period. The Peel House Archival Library is home to historic organizations including the Benton County Preservation Project and the Benton County Historical Society.
Bentonville is also home to the international headquarters of Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart Visitors Center is located on the square in Sam Walton’s original Bentonville variety store. A museum of the history of Wal-Mart and the Walton Family is located at the back of the small store and highlights the humble beginnings of this once small town and family. The circa 1886 building was first a post office, a drug store and an office before becoming Sam Walton’s first store. Today the Visitors Center traces the history of the largest retail conglomerate in America.