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Elkton is a town in and the county seat of Cecil County, Maryland, United States. The population was 15,443 at the 2010 census. It was formerly called Head of Elk because it sits at the head of navigation on the Elk River, which flows into the nearby Chesapeake Bay.
Elkton was once known as the Gretna Green of the East because of its popularity as a place for eloping couples to marry.
The town was founded by Swedish mariners and fisherman from Fort Casimir who settled the area in 1694. They called their settlement Head of Elk, as it was the head of navigation of the Elk River.
The town saw several actions during the American Revolutionary War. On Aug. 25, 1777, Sir William Howe's Anglo-German army (13,000 British soldiers and 5,000 Germans) landed on the Elk River and marched 11 miles north to Head of Elk. Howe soon advanced to the short and victorious campaign of the Brandywine, and thence to capture Philadelphia. On March 8, 1781, the Marquis de Lafayette embarked his troops there to attempt a capture of Benedict Arnold. Returning on April 9, he began his overland march to Virginia. George Washington and Rochambeau with their combined forces stopped in Elkton on September 6–7, 1781, on their way to Yorktown.
In 1787, the town was incorporated as Elkton. By 1880, the population was 1,752.
The landmark historic home, Holly Hall was built by James Sewall in the 1810s and quickly became a regional seat for important dignitaries and local politics.
When northern states began to pass more restrictive marriage laws in the early 20th century, Maryland did not. As a result, a number of Maryland towns near borders with other states became known as places to get married quickly and without many restrictions, or "Gretna Greens". Elkton, being the northeasternmost county seat in Maryland (and thus closer to Philadelphia, New York, and New England), was particularly popular. It was a notorious Gretna Green for years; in its heyday, in the 1920s and 1930s, it was "the elopement capital of the East Coast" and thousands of marriages were performed there each year. While some of the marriages obtained in Elkton were of celebrities or celebrities-to-be (Cornel Wilde, Joan Fontaine, Debbie Reynolds, Martha Raye, John and Martha Mitchell, Willie Mays, and Pat Robertson all got married in Elkton), the overall tawdry flavor grew to be too much for the state. A 48-hour waiting period was imposed in 1938, but Elkton continued to be a place to marry, and especially elope; it simply took longer. In time, Las Vegas became the new "American Gretna Green," although hundreds of people are still married in Elkton each year.
On December 8, 1963, Pan Am Flight 214 was struck by lightning and crashed near Elkton. The crash was listed in the 2005 Guinness World Records as the "Worst Lightning Strike Death Toll."
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 8.61 square miles (22.30 km2), of which, 8.35 square miles (21.63 km2) is land and 0.26 square miles (0.67 km2) is water.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Elkton has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
As of the census of 2010, there were 15,443 people, 5,580 households, and 3,673 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,849.5 inhabitants per square mile (714.1/km2). There were 5,944 housing units at an average density of 711.9 per square mile (274.9/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 76.0% White, 15.1% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.0% from other races, and 3.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.9% of the population.
There were 5,580 households of which 40.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.0% were married couples living together, 19.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.2% were non-families. 27.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.21.
The median age in the town was 32.8 years. 28% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 31% were from 25 to 44; 22.2% were from 45 to 64; and 9.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 48.2% male and 51.8% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 11,893 people, 4,446 households, and 2,898 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,480.5 people per square mile (571.8/km²). There were 4,743 housing units at an average density of 590.4 per square mile (228.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 85.85% White, 9.64% African American, 0.32% Native American, 1.17% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.78% from other races, and 2.20% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.97% of the population.
There were 4,446 households out of which 37.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.7% were married couples living together, 18.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.8% were non-families. 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.13.
In the town, the population was spread out with 29.4% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 33.5% from 25 to 44, 17.0% from 45 to 64, and 10.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.0 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $38,171, and the median income for a family was $44,348. Males had a median income of $36,495 versus $25,543 for females. The per capita income for the town was $17,789. About 9.4% of families and 11.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.0% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.
Elkton High School is a public school located in the town.
The town is managed with a Mayor–council government, in which it has an elected Mayor who serves 4-year terms and an elected Town Commissioner who also serves a 4-year term. Currently there are only 4 seated Commissioners. There have been a total of 41 Mayors in Elkton, the current Mayor of Elkton is Robert J. Alt.
U.S. Route 40 serves as the main east-west highway through Elkton; it passes through the town along the Pulaski Highway and heads west to North East and Perryville and east to Glasgow, Delaware. Maryland Route 213 passes north-south through Elkton along Bridge Street, heading south to Chesapeake City and north to Fair Hill. Maryland Route 279 begins at US 40 west of Elkton and heads northeast on Elkton Road, bypassing the center of Elkton to the north and continuting to an interchange with Interstate 95 and toward Newark, Delaware. Interstate 95 heads south toward Baltimore and Washington, D.C. and north toward Wilmington and Philadelphia. Other state highways serving Elkton include Maryland Route 7, which heads east along Main Street and Delaware Avenue from the downtown area to US 40; Maryland Route 268 which follows North Street from Main Street in downtown Elkton north to MD 279; Maryland Route 281, which heads east along Red Hill Road to the Delaware border and becomes Old Baltimore Pike; Maryland Route 316, which heads north from Elkton along Appleton Road; Maryland Route 545, which heads northwest from Elkton along Blue Ball Road; and Maryland Route 781, which follows Delancy Road from US 40 north to MD 281.
Cecil County operates Cecil Transit, a multi-route bus system. The Glasgow Connection (Route 1) runs from 5:30 am and ends at 6:15 pm, Monday through Saturday between Elkton and Peoples Plaza in Glasgow, Delaware. The Perryville Connection (Route 2) runs from 6:00 am and ends at 6:30 pm Monday through Saturday between Elkton, North East, Perryville (town and the Perryville station along MARC Train's Penn Line) and Perry Point Veteran's Medical Center. The Mid County Connection (Route 3) runs from 6:00 am and ends at 10:30 pm Monday through Friday and connects Elkton with North East, Perryville, Charlestown, and Cecil College. The Elkton Newark Connection (Route 4) runs from 6:00 am and ends at 10:00 pm Monday through Friday and connects Elkton to Glasgow and Newark, Delaware, where it connects with the Newark Rail Station that serves Amtrak and SEPTA Regional Rail's Wilmington/Newark Line trains along with DART First State buses at the Newark Transit Hub. Service between Elkton and Newark was previously provided by DART First State Route 65. The county also operates Demand Response, which is a countywide, curb-to-curb transit service for all ages. Rides must be scheduled in advance, and are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Demand Response operates Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
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