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History December 22, 2014  
 History of Elkin, North Carolina Minimize


The flowing together of the Yadkin River and the Big Elkin Creek has drawn people to the area of what is now Elkin, since the coming of the Paleo-Indians 10,000 years ago. We also, know that the Sioux Indians settled along the Yadkin River as early as 500 BC. The first English colonists came in the mid-eighteenth century, Cherokee Indians were also in the area, although they Cherokees had been active in the French and Indian War, they had joined in treaties with the English in 1763, followed by the events of the American revolution.

The town’s early history centers on one man and his descendants. Around 1840, Richard Gwyn left Jonesville to settle on the north side of the Yadkin River, recognizing the value of the forested hills and waterpower of Elkin Creek. Within a decade he and several family members established Elkin Manufacturing Company. Farther up Elkin Creek, Alexander Chatham and Thomas Lenior Gwyn opened a small woolen mill in 1877 that grew to become Elkin’s largest industry today. The Northwestern North Carolina Railroad arrived in 1890; the town was ready to take the opportunities the railroad brought for commercial and industrial expansion. It’s strategic location near the Yadkin River and the Big Elkin Creek and as a stop on the railroad caused prosperity that produced brick stores, many industries, and fine houses.

The beginning of industry with the cotton mill, the civil war involvement the coming of the railroad, the town’s coping with the depression of the thirties, and the two world wars.

The heritage of the two rivers that flow through the community should not be forgotten. First, the rivers provided water and means for fishing and travel. Also, using waterpower to drive gristmills, forges, and sawmills was an important economic development. The greatest impact was the more sophisticated mills along the rivers that powered shoe and textile factories. Elkin has a proud history and a bright future as seen in its historic downtown, where past landmarks are being revitalized.


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The Town Of Elkin, North Carolina - Elkinnc.org - Monday-Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Mailing Address: Post Office Box 857 Elkin, North Carolina 28621 Street Address: 226 North Bridge Street Elkin, North Carolina 28621 Town Hall Office Number: 336-794-6464

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