The confluence of the Yadkin River and Big Elkin Creek in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge mountains has drawn people to the site of what is today’s city of Elkin since the coming of the Paleo-Indians 10,000 years ago. Records show that the Sioux Indians settled along the Yadkin River as early as 500 B.C.
Early Settlement Brings Cotton Mills
Around 1840, Richard Gwyn left Jonesville to settle on the north side of the Yadkin River, recognizing the value of the forested hills and water power of the Big Elkin Creek. Within a decade, he and several family members established Elkin Manufacturing Company, a cotton mill which continued to operate during the Civil War, producing fabric for Confederate uniforms. Most early Southern textile mills were damaged or destroyed during the war, but Elkin’s mill survived intact and remained fully operational.
Further up Big Elkin Creek, Alexander Chatham and Thomas Lenoir Gwyn opened a woolen mill in 1877 that grew and became Elkin’s largest industry. The Northwestern North Carolina Railroad arrived in 1890, and Elkin was poised to take the opportunities the railroad brought for commercial and industrial expansion. Elkin’s history includes the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the Second Industrial Revolution, and the Elkin and Alleghany Railroad.
Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, Elkin has embraced its history and added a touch of sophistication. Visitors can hike the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, shop in one-of-a-kind specialty stores, experience fine dining, paddle the Yadkin River, and enjoy an exhibit at the Foothills Arts Council.
Elkin is located within twenty minutes of twenty wine tasting rooms, all within North Carolina’s first federally recognized American Viticulture Area – the Yadkin Valley AVA, including the Brushy Mountain Winery in Historic Downtown Elkin.
The Arts, Galleries and a Museum
The Foothills Arts Council is home for the visual and performing arts in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Yadkin Valley Craft Guild represents fine and heritage crafts and craft education in the Greater Yadkin Valley Region.
The John Furches Gallery is located at 123 West Main Street in Historic Downtown Elkin.
The Richard Gwyn Museum – Elkin’s founder, Richard Gwyn, built Gwyn School-Elkin Chapel around 1850. The building is the oldest in Surry County to have been used as either a church or school. The Jonathan Hunt Chapter of the D.A.R. converted it to a local history museum and items on display include farm tools, domestic artifacts, textiles, a weaving loom, photographs, and documents.
Parks, Trails and Outdoor Activities
Elkin Municipal Park is a 25-acre Park with three ball fields, eight lighted tennis courts, a mile long scenic walking track, a playground, two picnic shelters and a band shell, as well as an outdoor swimming pool that is open to the public during the summer months.
Crater Park has a ball field, multipurpose field and Yakin River Access with a public boat ramp.
Chatham Park has a picnic shelter, along with baseball, softball and soccer fields.
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail – Elkin is the eastern trailhead for the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, one of only 15 such trails in the nation. This trail commemorates the journey of the “Overmountain Men” who traveled from Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina, and fought and defeated the British at the Battle of Kings Mountain. The Wilkes/Surry Patriot Militia mustered in present day Municipal Park on September 7, 1780. The Patriots, along with their Tory prisoners, traveled back through Elkin after the victory at Kings Mountain. Elkin is the only location the Patriots gathered and came back through after the victorious battle.
Yadkin River Trail – Paddling, fishing and bird watching can all be enjoyed on this section of the 165 mile river trail, rich in natural beauty and American history. Access the river at the boat ramp at Crater Park.
Leaf-to-Vine Scenic Byway – 65 miles of farmland, foothills and mountains with interpretive sites tell the story of how the local communities have been impacted by agriculture, how tobacco farms have become wineries, and the region’s connection to NASCAR. This North Carolina Scenic Byway begins and ends at the intersection of North Bridge Street and Market Street in Historic Downtown Elkin.
Friendship Speedway is a 4/10 mile dirt track that runs on Saturdays from mid-March through Halloween.
Festivals & Events
The Yadkin Valley Wine Festival, held annually in May, showcases the region’s growing collection of prize-winning vineyards and wineries.
The Pumpkin Festival, held in Historic Downtown Elkin on the third Saturday of October, highlights local crafts, arts, music and dance, and of course, who’s grown the largest pumpkin!
Several local organizations host events throughout the year, including a Fourth of July Children’s Parade and a Christmas Parade. For more information on events sponsored by Downtown Elkin, Inc.
Farmers Tailgate Market
The Elkin Farmers Market is held every Saturday in the Elkin Town Hall parking lot located at 226 North Bridge Street from mid-April through mid-October. Hours are 9:00 a.m. – noon.
Elkin is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains – just one mile from Interstate 77, 9 miles from US 421 and 18 miles from Interstate 40. It is 25 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, 30 minutes from Virginia and 45 minutes from Winston-Salem.