The leading branch of industry is linen and damask weaving; but woollen stuffs, trimmings, &c., are also produced in the factories of the town, and in the surrounding weaving; villages, sixty-six of which, with 113,455 (1900) inhabitants,, are included in the municipal jurisdiction.
Among Elgin's manufactures are watches and watch-cases, butter and other dairy products, cooperage (especially butter tubs), canned corn, shirts, foundry and machine-shop products, pipe-organs, and caskets and casket trimmings; in 1905 Elgin's total factory product was valued at $9,349, 2 74.
The Essex Institute (1848) is housed in a brick building (1851) with freestone trimmings and in old Plummer Hall (1857); its museum contains some old furniture and a collection of portraits; it has an excellent library and publishes quarterly (1859 sqq.) Historical' Collections.
It is the seat of iron, steel and copper industries, besides carrying on extensive manufactures of ribbons, trimmings and silk goods generally.
Widely distributed in North America, the best come from Canada, are costly and are used for military caps, boas, muffs, trimmings, carriage rugs and coachmen's capes, and the fur wears exceedingly well.