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. .