With time to kill while the motor home repairs were being made, I visited most of the towns in Michiana, including Elkhart. I had never been in the town proper, although I was on the outskirts about 10 years ago. Even before I got to town, I stumbled upon a nice park where the Bonneyville Mill is located. This mill, built in 1832 by a man named Bonney, was only part of a complex that included a saw mill and dam across the Little Elkhart River. The mill employed a horizontal turbine, which provided significantly more power than the conventional upright water wheel. However, it does not offer the romantic view today that we like to see in an old grist mill.
The mill operated until 1968, when regulation became too burdensome. Over the years there had been several owners of the mill and numerous improvements made. A water wheel was added to generate electricity for the local families. The county bought the property in 1968 and converted it to a park. Ironically, the mill is still used to grind wheat, though not commercially.
|Little Elkhart River|
On the way into Elkhart, I saw several attractive neighborhoods along the Elkhart River, many of which were blessed with colorful fall foliage. Unfortunately, the prettiest scenes would have required entry to residential properties in order to get pictures, so I had to settle once again for trees along the street.
When I saw the whimsical sculpture of a marching band, I wondered what its significance is to the town of Elkhart. Google explained that the city has been manufacturing band instruments for more than 100 years. At one time, it was the "Band Instrument Capital of The World", with more than 60 companies manufacturing band instruments. As a result of consolidations, imports and reduced school budgets for buying instruments, there are today only three companies still making instruments in Elkhart. Still, they are considered to be the "Band Instrument Capital of The United States".
Island Park is a nice downtown green space located where the Elkhart River merges with the St. Joseph.
I saw one sign that exclaimed "Elkhart...the city with a heart". That may be, but they definitely have an elk. In fact, I saw several elk statues around town, all decorated with a different theme.
|One of Elkhart's "Herd"|
There are quite a few murals in town. My favorite depicts a blues band, perhaps another reference to the business of manufacturing instruments.
The first hydroelectric dam in Elkhart was built in 1867 and by 1870 powered the entire city. That dam still produces electric power today.