Visiting Elgin, Texas in the USA With a Dog
When trying to figure out where to start in telling our “Adventures in Texas,” it seemed apparent that our hosts’ pied-a-terre of Elgin was an obvious launching pad.
We are certain that if you visit Elgin area, like us, you will fall in love with the expanses of pastoral fields with animals and wild flowers. The little Beaver Road with its ancient cemetery and trees that reached from either side of the road to touch in a shaded canopy made Mom squirm in her seat until Stewart (our host)stopped the car so she could take a photograph.
The large and majestic longhorns grazing lazily on Monkey Road (I know right? We loved the name too!) are so impressive to see. All manner of horses, donkeys and other farm animals populated individual properties in rural Elgin. Dogs sat lazily in the sun. We also saw some of the largest agave ever on the edge of the road; something we would never see back home!
Texas pride is obvious on every corner, on/in every home, and with every utterance of “How ya’ll doing?” The Texan flag, Texan star and longhorn icon adorn nearly every possible surface. None of the Montecristo Team could recall a place – country or city – that showed this much pride. It was almost overwhelming.
The small town of Elgin proper – population of 9,564 – was equally charming. It could be easy to dismiss Elgin as a quiet, sleepy little borough with nothing much to offer, but you’d be wrong. Like many quaint towns, there are wonderful stories hidden in the walls of old buildings – buildings that have stood the test of time and born witness to many an era with the ups and downs of its human inhabitants.
To our delight, we also learned that Elgin is known as “The Sausage Capital of Texas” and “The Brick Capital of the Southwest.” The latter is due to the existence of three brickyards operating in the mid-twentieth century. I believe two of the brickyards are still operating. Elgin also manufactured a lot of cotton and processed a great deal of cotton gin once upon a time. And yet it was none of these industries that established Elgin; rather, the City of Elgin owes its existence to a major flood of the Colorado River in 1869. That flood forced a change in plans for train tracks. The original plans couldn’t be realized, so the tracks were re-routed 10 miles (16 km) east, giving birth to a new town, named Elgin after the railroad’s land commissioner.
” width=”639″ height=”960″ /> Like a movie set![/caption]” width=”960″ height=”639″ /> SOmuch Texas stuff![/caption]What we saw of the town was mostly its Commercial Historic District, which spans about 14 city blocks. Most of the buildings in this district, erected between 1872 and 1947, are constructed of locally produced brick. The Elgin Commercial Historic District was added to the US National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Within the 14-block district, 67 buildings are considered contributing structures. (A contributing structure is one that has maintained its architectural integrity.)
As we walked down Main Street and then visited the local park, it became clear to us that saving Elgin’s historic buildings is high on the list of priorities for the locals. A majority of the buildings on Main Street (Depot Street to First Street) have been restored or renovated. Primary funding for downtown projects comes from the annual Hogeye Festival in October. (Sadly, we missed this event by just a few days!) Even with the Festival, the economy is making it difficult to carry out the needed projects. We truly hope that Elgin will survive these difficult times and flourish once more … if nothing else but for the Lemon Meringue.
What? Can’t a dog love Meringue?
Let me tell you about the Mile High Lemon Meringue and Coconut Meringue pies on offer at City Café! Even if you can only do a “pit stop” in Elgin, you must stop at City Café! Oh, and the beer is served in iced beer steins. But the pie … back to the pie … just take a look! (Exhibit A)
In addition to the food and beverages, the décor at City Café is absolutely wonderful! The place has been around for 102 years; the original Elgin bricks are on display inside. Also inside are lovely murals and a big chandelier, not to mention an impressive set of longhorns over the door. The place has a wonderful vibe. If travelling with your dog, enjoy the outdoors patio, surrounded by potted plants in full bloom. The service was kind and efficient. It really was a pleasant way to spend a little bit of time.
If you want a full meal that will (oh pardon the upcoming pun – I couldn’t help myself) stick to your ribs, then we recommend Meyer’s Smokehouse. True to Elgin’s history this is the place to go for sausage. But the brisket and ribs are also oh, so moist and yummy. The food is divine. Everything is made and cooked locally. It’s not fussy or complex but the flavors are true and take you back to “grandma’s home cookin’.” For us, half the fun was seeing the antique sausage press, the (hilarious) signs and all the awards hanging on the walls. Although Meyer’s is not dog friendly, you can take your order to go.
Elgin may not be one of the the world’s largest metropolises and it doesn’t offer oodles and oodles of stores and museums; however, Elgin is worth stopping by and sampling. In addition to the history and food, consider checking out the cow patty bingo that takes place during Hogeye, and do a drive through at what could be the world’s smallest coffee shop, Catz Café!
Marlene and Stewart Morrill’s hospitality is something we will forever treasure. They not only provided us with a wonderfully comfortable guest room to call our own, but also took time off work to drive us around, filling the roles of both personal chauffer and tour guide. We will never forget the warm Texan welcome we received in Elgin. The friendship was already strong before our visit but the bond is now something more akin to that of family.
Elgin and the Morrill’s … sigh. Have you ever met people or found a small town that warms your heart and just makes you smile?