is a little rural town
about 45 miles west of Chicago
, in Blackberry Township
, which itself is in Kane
County. The year 2000 population
of the area is listed at 7,705 (which I have a hard time believing, IMHO
The beginnings of the town are generally accepted to be May 2, 1834. On that day, William Lance rolled into town, and soon built his home there. Shortly thereafter, a man named Henry Warne made his home here as well, opening what he called the Halfway House (which was apt, as it was halfway between Oregon, IL and Chicago, IL - evidently both important places at that time). There's quite a bit more to it than that, but for now, so much for its humble beginnings.
The name Elburn itself derives from its originally suggested name, Melbourne, but a suggestion to shorten the name resulted in the dropping of the "M", leaving Elbourne. From there, it was shortened even further to Elburne, and then finally someone must have thought that two "E's" was too flamboyant or something (hey, it was the 19th century!), and we now simply have Elburn.
The name as it is now is unique ... there is no other town in America, perhaps the world, named Elburn. To parse the name itself, "El" refers to great and mighty, while "burn" refers to a small stream in Scottish. It's somewhat near the Fox River, but to say that it has anything to do with Elburn is kind of like saying a guy living on the North Side of Chicago is a neighbor of someone on the South Side --- it's a whole lot more inaccurate than it is a truism.
One nice thing about modern-day Elburn is that, for lack of a better phrase, it is still very much "Mayberry"-like (though time will likely even erode that).
As of January 2006, one can now again catch a train to Chicago (and all points in between). It hasn't been that way since the 1950s or so. Exciting!
I cannot say that there is too much that Elburn might be well-known for. The first thing to come to mind is that, if memory serves, during the first Gulf War there was a picture of an Air Force pilot giving the old thumbs-up signal on the cover of a magazine like Time or Life or that lot. That pilot was from Elburn - pretty neat for all of us!
I was shocked a few years ago that at our annual Elburn Days parade was none other than recently-promoted (at the time) Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (who lives somewhat in the area). I recall remarking to those with me that, right here, right now, at 6:30pm on a Friday in Shithole Gulch (more a term of endearment than it may appear) is, arguably, the most powerful man in the world. Talk about your restaurant-quality paradox, or better yet, an example of Alpha and Omega.
Neighboring cities would include Batavia, Geneva, and Saint Charles (referred to, as a group, as the Tri-Cities). Aurora and Dekalb (home of the Northern IL University Huskies) are other close-by places as well. And, as said before, we're not terribly far from Chicago.
The lovely thing is that you can have all the city life you want, but when it's all done, you get to go back to being a country mouse - the best of both worlds, really.
Shocking as it was to me when I first found out about it a few years ago, Elburn can be found on the web at "http://www.elburn.il.us".
Finally, if you happen to find yourself out this way, (1) Do stop, because you may well not have an experience like this anywhere else, (2) get some beef jerky from the local butcher, Randy Ream (his shit is first-class and literally world-renowned in butchery-type circles), and (3) Don't Speed , because the cowboys employed by the local police force tend to be, in a word, jerkoffs.