Indiana: Elkhart County

Elkhart County (pop. 197,559) is east of St. Joseph County, along the border with Michigan.

The origin of the name “Elkhart” is uncertain. One theory is that the island on the Elkhart River in downtown Elkhart is shaped like an elk’s heart, as viewed from above.

Aerial views were not available when it was named.

The county’s population has grown consistently over the years (it was 84,000 in 1950), mainly because of the recreational vehicle industry. More than half of American RVs are made in Elkhart County.

Elkhart (pop. 50,949) is the county’s largest city. The RV/MH Hall of Fame is just northeast of the city.

Interior of the RV museum

Elkhart is also the home of the National New York Central Railroad Museum, established in 1987 to honor the now-defunct railroad line that ran through Elkhart between New York City and Chicago.

The railroad had 11,000 miles of tracks.

The Robert Young Yard in Elkhart is the largest railroad classification yard (where freight cars are sorted) east of the Mississippi.

View from the air

Elkhart has also been known as “The Band Instrument Capital of the World” because of the many factories making instruments – down from about 60, years ago, to just a few today.

The Lerner Theatre in Elkhart dates from 1924. It now has a variety of concerts and theatrical events.

A movie theater until 1987

At the corner of Lexington Avenue and Riverside Drive in Elkhart, dentist Joseph Stamp embedded many of the teeth that he’d pulled into a concrete block in front of his office.

There’s no charge to view it.

The Hall of Heroes Museum in Elkhart is “the only Super Hero and Comic Book Museum in the world.” It has more than 60,000 comic books, plus more than 10,000 toys, figures, and props.

Built in 2006

The county seat of Elkhart County is the city of Goshen (pop. 31,719), home of the Elkhart County 4-H Fair and Goshen College, a liberal-arts school affiliated with the Mennonite Church.

Elkhart County Courthouse (1870, renovated 1908)

Film director Howard Hawks (1896-1977) was born in Goshen, where his family owned the Goshen Milling Company. The family later moved to Pasadena, California.

Elkhart County has a significant Amish population. In Nappanee (the longest city name in the U.S. containing each letter in its name twice) is Amish Acres, an Amish tourist attraction.

An 80-acre farmstead

NEXT: LAGRANGE COUNTY

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One comment on “Indiana: Elkhart County

  1. dot says:

    I love how Elkhart ‘may’ have gotten it’s name: please, humans have always been smart and creative. AND if band were still offered in elementary schools, the brass band instrument factories would be busier, hello? And thanks for the note on Nappanee…..

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