Living In Elkin
History of Elkin, North Carolina
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 the 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.
Foothills Arts Council next door, Thurs - Sat noon till 6pm.
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.
Elkin's Shoe Factory Dam can be viewed along the town's beautiful Elkin and Alleghany RR trails system
along the Big Elkin Creek, starting in the Elkin Municipal Park.
The beginning of industry started with the cotton mill, the Civil War involvement, the coming of the railroad, the town’s coping with the depression of the thirties, and then 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 now being revitalized.
Videos showcasing the history of Elkin, sponsored by Explore Elkin:
The History of Elkin
The History of Chatham Manufacturing and our community: