Craving for a fresh sausage for breakfast? Elgin, Texas, is the place to go; dubbed as the sausage capital of the US, they serve one of the best sausages in America. A significant flavor of Texas country life can be found in Elgin in addition to its rich history and, of course, its excellent barbecue and hot sausages.
Brief History of Elgin
Elgin was named for the railroad’s land commissioner, Robert Morris Elgin, on August 18, 1872. The existence of Elgin came perilously close to being nonexistent; a big flood in 1869 saved the town of Elgin from extinction. McDade, ten miles east of Elgin, was a planned route for the Houston and Texas Central Railroad in the 1860s. A massive flood on the Colorado River in 1869 forced railroad planners to rethink their plans. Following the death of Republic of Texas soldier George W. Glasscock, who had resided in the area during the 1830s, in 1871, the railroad built a flag stop they named “Glasscock.” It was renamed Elgin on August 18, 1872, after Robert Morris Elgin, the railroad’s land commissioner, served as the city’s first mayor.
The city began to prosper when a north-south train crossed through Katy and Houston with two passenger lines. In the early 1900s, the town boomed due to abundant cotton harvests. Elgin’s closeness to Camp Swift allowed it to reap the benefits of the industrial boom that swept the nation during World War II. Moreover, brick factories were relocated to Elgin because of the abundance of clay in the area. Elgin had a thriving brick manufacturing industry; the city used to be renowned as the “Brick Capital of the Southwest” because of its profitable brick manufacturing business. Hot sausage is one of the best things about Elgin. Four different companies make the tasty sausage. Additionally, Elgin is recognized as the “Sausage Capital of Texas.” By the 1980s, Elgin’s most remarkable attraction was its quick commute to Austin.
Residents of Elgin place a high value on the town’s long and illustrious history, as seen by the town’s numerous stunningly preserved historic homes. These ancient locations have been rebuilt and conserved to such a high standard that movie production companies frequently employ them as on-location sets for their films.
Understanding Elgin’s Culture
Elgin is a classic example of a small town. It’s a little town where everyone knows each other, and everyone knows everyone else. The intimate nature of the town’s residents is a result of its tiny size. Small-town life breeds distrust of strangers, making adjusting to a new place more difficult for newcomers. It’s not as if they’re unwelcoming. As a newcomer to Texas will find, it’s quite the opposite, as is valid throughout the state. You won’t feel quite as welcome within the inner circles until you’ve lived there for a few years in the workplace, church, and social settings.
Each Fox River community has its uniqueness. While the river runs calm and straight along Elgin, Illinois, the town and its people move and shake; Elgin has an exciting culture and traditions. Chicago Street in Downtown Elgin pumps culture and vibrancy from its namesake city. As you head west on Chicago Street and Highland Avenue, you’ll pass quirky bookstores, coffee shops, and antique shops. Along this walk lies the Doctor Who-themed Blue Box Cafe, which sponsors cool or geeky weekend events. Friday or Saturday nights might involve a live podcast recording, game playing, cosplaying, or movie marathoning.
Downtown is teeming with bartenders mixing drinks unique to Elgin’s identity; the Boss’s Sour, The Elgin Public House’s signature bourbon drink, has ginger liqueur and Luxardo Sour Cherry Syrup. The Martini Room serves martinis for every taste. Smoking Gun, under ‘Hot & Sexy Martinis,’ has blueberry and smoked rosemary tastes. Elgin takes pride in its craft beer scene, which is both artistic and delicious. The Plank Road Tap Room boasts a log cabin facade and is the area’s craft beer pioneer. Bring your food, and they’ll provide beer and atmosphere.
Moreover, Emmett’s Brewing Co. in West Dundee treats customers like neighbors and mixes handcrafted beer with meals. Elginites understand the importance of having a good time while sipping a delicious drink, a shared experience with other people who like the arts. The Elgin area boosts innovation and culture. It seems that what inspires this community is each other—constantly pushing to find the following creative edge and sharing each other’s discoveries.
The Sausage Capital
The famous Elgin story begins with the railroad, like how the place was discovered. William J. Moon built the first barbecue establishment, Southside Market, along the Elgin railroad, in 1886. While the train was refueling, passengers could grab a bite. Before refrigeration was invented, meat was smoked. Mr. Moon put a twist into the usual practice of smoking meat, ground beef trimmings, added spices and salt, and stuffed the meat in what appears as a natural casing, which paved the way for the first Elgin sausage. Elgin’s barbecue and the sausage became Elgin’s unofficial trademark. Different proprietors may have changed the original recipe of Mr. Moon, but the taste is close to the 1880s sausage in Elgin.
The original Southside sausage had a competition when Hermina and Rudolph Meyer launched a drive-in store in 1949 and sold raw sausage produced from their German family recipe, challenging Southside’s hegemony. Mr. Meyer gave samples of his sausage to Austin grocers, who asked him to create enough to sell. In the 1950s, Meyers’ son Farrel joined the family business. In the 1980s, Rudolph Meyer’s grandsons took on the family company and sausage-making legacy. Locals debate which sausage is the best, Southside vs. Meyer’s sausage. The two sausages are distinctly different. Southside’s sausage is beef, while Meyer’s is pork. But whichever is more popular, both sausages played a factor in Elgin being named “The Sausage Capital of Texas.”
Elgin’s Attractions and Activities
For a little town, Elgin offers a lot of excitement; here are some of our favorite attractions in Elgin that tourists should check out while they’re here.
1. Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse.
Meyer’s has been known as ‘Cuetopia, Texas’ since 1949. The Meyer family has honed their secret sausage recipe, brisket, ribs, and poultry for 70 years. Check out this Elgin hotspot first or last; you won’t regret it.
2. 14 Depot Street, Elgin.
You’ll find an extensive archive collection at the historic Union Depot, which provides a detailed look at the town’s communications equipment since its inception. Throughout the year, the museum’s rich collection of local history items and photographs is on view. The museum gift shop sells postcards, depot emblem patches, caps, and Elgin Afghans.
3. 195 Hwy 290, Elgin.
It’s here at the Elgin Antique Mall, a year-round treasure trove of antiquities, glassware, oak furniture, and more!
4. 117 N. Main St., Liberty Tree Tavern.
The Liberty Tree Tavern, a former funeral home turned tavern, is the best spot to unwind with a refreshing drink and live music. Rumor has it that a ghost or two is responsible for keeping the water at the restaurant cold!
5. 20250 FM 619, Elgin.
Down Home Ranch operates a 410-acre working farm that offers a variety of residential, educational, social, and vocational activities to empower individuals.
6. Hogeye Festival (Oct. 24–26) 109 Depot St., Elgin,.
Elgin’s “Sooooie” season runs from the end of October to the beginning of November. More than a dozen events are taking place on the town streets to celebrate the annual cook-off and other festivities.
7. 411 Madison Street, Elgin, Thomas Memorial Park.
The barbecue party is over, and it’s time to head back outside and burn off some of the calories you’ve consumed. The Thomas Memorial Park would be happy to accommodate you. Twelve acres of open space are home to several sports fields, picnic areas, volleyball courts, playgrounds, a disc golf course, picnic tables, and a trail system.
8. 10908 Jones Road, Manor, White Fences Equestrian Center.
The White Fences Equestrian Center can be found just outside Elgin’s city boundaries, about 15 minutes from Austin. They offer trail rides, lessons, boarding, training, and shows. You’ll ride through miles of undulating hills and wooded paths on the trail rides.
9. Visit Elgin’s Main Street for a Day of Shopping and Drinking.
Downtown Elgin merchants open their doors from 5 pm to 8 pm on the second Thursday of every month for a night of shopping, sipping, and strolling. You’ll discover live music, beer and wine samples, store deals, and more throughout town.
10. 101 Hoxie Street, Coupland.
Eat, drink, and dance! Located about 10 minutes from downtown Elgin, The Old Coupland Inn & Dancehall is a must-see if you’re visiting Elgin. 1904-built Coupland Drug Company opened in 1911. It’s been owned by doctors, newspapers, and a tavern, and it’s time for a change again. The structure is now home to a restaurant, a dancehall, and a Bed and Breakfast like an 1800s wild west brothel.