SUBMITTED PHOTO In Elgin, Texas the city hall is located in a century-old converted home. The city was named after a 19th-century railroad executive.
Updated: November 16, 2013 6:06AM
By bringing the world instantly together, our Internet search engines also can make that world more confusing — especially if you live in or around a city with a name as popular as “Elgin.”
Yes, Elgin, Ill., with a population of about 110,000, is the largest place named “Elgin” in the world. But if you search for news from Elgin — or sign up to be automatically sent “Google Alerts” for news breaking in Elgin — it won’t always be clear whether what you’re reading has happened across the state, in the Deep South, across the Canadian border or even on the other side of the Atlantic. On Monday we talked about the mother of all Elgins, the ancient town in Scotland, plus a city in South Carolina that was reborn thanks to our Elgin National Watch Co.
Today, we look at six more Elgins your Google Alerts may be confusing for your hometown:
Pronunciation of the word “Elgin”: With a hard “G”
Like those in Illinois and South Carolina, the second biggest Elgin in America is a distant “exurb” of a bigger city that’s turning into a suburb as the bigger city grows. The Texas Elgin can be found along an interstate 20 miles outside of trendy Austin.
Like their Scottish counterparts, the Texans pronounce their city’s name with a hard “G” sound — as in “Giddy-up,” the city website notes. The town was named after a post-Civil War railroad executive who pronounced his name that way.
And like their Illinois and Scottish counterparts, the Texan Elginites get their news from a newspaper named The Elgin Courier, though this one never merged with an Elgin Daily News. This may confuse Google Alerts subscribers looking for Elgin, Ill., news.
Two clues to sort things out: 1. For the genuine Illinois article, look for “Courier-News,” not just “Courier.” 2. Call up any news story from Texas’s Elgin Courier online and you’ll find it decorated with a large ad saluting the 200th anniversary of the Texas Rangers — the lawmen, not the ball team.
Elgin (Texas) High School sports fans cheer not for the Maroons but for their Wildcats.
Several years ago the Texas Elgin got some national attention when pop psychologist Phil McGraw adopted the town for a year on his syndicated TV series, focusing in on various family and societal problems in the town each week.
Current news: The Elgin Police Department is looking for a new chief. If you’re in the neighborhood on Saturday, the Elgin fire station (they apparently have just one) is holding an open house and fire safety demonstration.
And a recent feature story in the big-time Houston Chronicle some 120 miles away saluted Elgin’s thriving restaurant scene.
But one common thread found here, too, is murder. Texas prosecutors last month indicted an Elgin man on charges that he murdered a woman and left her body along a rural road in 2010. He finally had been tied to the crime by DNA found with the body.
Located in the southwest corner of Oklahoma along I-44, this little town contains the biggest proportion of Native Americans of any Elgin — almost 10 percent. But like all the other Elgins besides the Illinois one, this Elgin remains overwhelmingly white Anglo in demographics.
Like several other Elgins, this was founded when a railroad was built through its area and it began as a center of farm commerce. According to the Oklahoma State Historical Society, the 1902 postmaster at first wanted to name it “Ceegee,” after a developer’s initials. But the postal service rejected that. So the postmaster next decided on “Elgin,” for reasons the historical society doesn’t explain. Perhaps he owned an Elgin pocket watch.
The population approximately doubled over the past 10 years, possibly because of the construction of a new defense-industry plant. The Fort Sill Military Reservation is nearby.
Hot in the news this week: The Elgin High School Owls team beat a Tulsa team Saturday night to advance to the final match in Oklahoma’s Class 4A girls volleyball championship. They also won that tournament last year.
PORT ELGIN, ONT.
Chief industry: Tourism
Pronunciation: Hard “G”
Port Elgin describes itself as “a community in the Ontario municipality of Saugeen Shores,” on the east shore of Lake Huron. Close to MacGregor Point Provincial Park, this Port Elgin has several beaches on Lake Huron. It also boasts a steam-powered miniature train, which runs around a two-mile track in summertime, plus minigolf and various other attractions to vacationers from both sides of the border.
There’s no Courier pumping out news from here. But the nearby town of Owen Sound does publish an Owen Valley Sun-Times, whose circulation is a tad smaller than Chicago’s Sun-Times.
Current news: Hearings are being held this week on a proposal to create a “Deep Geological Repository” near the town for the dumping of nuclear power-plant waste. Doesn’t sound very tourism-friendly. Port Elgin business leaders would rather remind the world that they had a very successful 2013 Pumpkinfest last week.
Pop.: 418, and dropping steadily for the past 30 years
Biggest employers: A window factory and a nursing home
By far the oldest Elgin in the New World, this village along Canada’s Atlantic coast was first settled by Acadians (the people who would become Louisiana’s Cajuns) before Washington and Jefferson had been born. At first called Gaspareaux Town, it was renamed after Gov. Gen. Elgin in 1847.
Breaking news: The town signed an agreement this week with neighboring villages Sackville and Dorchester to decrease the global-warming emissions from their municipal operations, according to that mighty journalistic organ, the Sackville Tribune-Post.
Called “the Jewel of the Blue Mountains,” our westernmost Elgin was named after the Lake Michigan ship the Lady Elgin, which sank in a notorious shipwreck not far from Chicago in 1860. The town’s first postmaster loved a song written about the disaster called “Lost on the Lady Elgin,” so he suggested it as a new name for the town. The new monicker did have to feel like an upgrade over two of the area’s previous names, Fish Trap and Cricket Flats.
Elgin is in a river valley in far northeast Oregon, near the Washington and Idaho borders. The main industry in early years was logging; now, as in many of the world’s Elgins, tourism is big.
Tourist attractions include an excursion train through mountain scenery called the Eagle Cap.
Located in wide-open, weather-buffeted North Dakota, this isolated country town has a large number of seniors and a majority of its people, according to the city’s website, live alone. The city website says that “75 percent of commuters drive to work. Most residents would agree that driving around Elgin is a bit easier than around other cities of its size.”
And you have to remember, that “size” is 1.05 square miles. Very few cities of this size need traffic copters. The nearest “big” city — Bismarck, which has two-thirds as many people as Elgin, Ill. — is 57 miles away.
This Elgin actually has shown up in recent Google Alerts because 1. Scores of white supremacists are trying to turn even smaller Leith, N.D., which is in the same county and just 13 miles down the road from Elgin, into a neo-Nazi hometown; and 2. a freak snowstorm a week ago — 12 inches fell in Elgin itself, and up to 7 feet in adjoining areas — knocked out electrical power to the area for up to a week.