"El Kart" (something used to tranport things?)
"Home is where the "hart" is ?"
It's located on a river of the same name, that was a once an important trade route in another era, that dumps into the another river that runs through it and out to Lake Michigan.
Once probably better known as the Village of Pulaski ,and part of Michigan ( according to a Historical Marker on Beardsley St.)
Its now officially ELKHART, Indiana
The name has many mysterious and often argued sources.
Possibly fancifully christened ”Coeur deCerf” (loosley meaning the heart of a stag.) by the French/Kickapoo/ Potawatomi trapper Pierre Moran.
Some say that the name might in fact have some ties to one of its rivers being named for Shawnee Indian Chief Chief Mishiwa-Teki (Elk-heart) the father of Princess Mishiwa-ka. (The town down stream is Mishawaka)
Others say the name was simply the work of a clever ametuer real estate salesman / con man named Havilah Beardsley. Who thought "Elkhart" was a catchy name.
Either way, by 1858 Elkhart "stuck" as its name.
Elkhart has a quite vivid and exciting past.
Carrying such awe inspring mottos as:
"Band Instrument Capital of the World" (Conn/ Selmer)
"The RV Capital of the World"
"A Little City With Big Ideas "
“The City with a Heart”
"The home of worlds leading brass fitting manufacturers"
"Home of the Leading Manufacturers of Patent Medicines"
(Miles Laboratories : Dr. Franklin Miles , George E. Compton , Albert R. Beardsley ; Bucklen’s Proprietary Medicines: Herbert E. Bucklen ; )
Most, if not all of these lofty mottos have fallen by the wayside as major industiries have evaporated in the city.
It is doubtful if Elkhart today can lay claim to its "2000 Elkhart, Indiana Business Directory" listings of
949 widely diversified manufacturing companies
469 retail establishments
1,096 service institutions (including banks)
Elkhart today might likely better know as
"Nursing home capital"
being the home of "Riverside Village" an average sized, for-profit, nursing home. And numerous others.
Be sure to look for and explore the many historical markers and defunct business locations that litter the city.
"Ambrose Bierce Slept here?"
According to a "historical marker" at 518 West Franklin St.
"Bitter" Bierce supposedly lived and worked in Elkhart 1860-1861. The Author of such charming satirical sardonic works as "The Devil's Dictionary" , " An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge ", and "A Vision of Doom"
Whether Bierce actually lived and worked in Elkhart is up for question.
Fact? or Fiction?
Either way, IT still got Elkhart yet another historical marker.
"Trains, Planes, Automobiles, and what they left"
Elkhart , prior to its "trailer town" status of the 70's ,
was: a major Railroad switching yard, site of several failed automotive manufactuirers, and the home of the "Elkhart Municipal Airport"
See if you can find all of these things when you visit.
And don't forget all the former industries and their accidents:
Acrapac, Bayer, Elpaco, Elkhart Brass, Elkhart Products, Himco, Mercury Switches, Elkhart Foundry, CTS, Elkhart Rubber, Dometic Corp., Dexter Axle... The list goes on and on.
The town has hosted created and lost more expensive well known 20th century business prospects than even dear old South Bend can lay claim to. And all the "gooies" that those prospects lost , dumped, and buried.
Elkhart is reminicent of the old T.S. Eliot lines..
"My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went."
Elkhart sems to continually be sledding on very thin snow on a very steep hill.
So be sure NOT to miss the numerous "superfund" sites that permeate the city.. but take my advice.. don't drink the water.. The whole town is sitting in a toxic soup of its own making.
Whether you are in town, down stream, or on Lake Michigan, remember: Undisclosed ground water contamination in Elkhart is "coming to a area near you.. " soon
I drive around and ponder what has come and gone, and what is still going down the drain..