Elon began in 1881 as a North Carolina Railroad depot in between the stations of Goldsboro and Charlotte, called "Mill Point” because it was envisioned to be a shipping point for area cotton mills. Locals called it “Boon’s Crossing.” Because of a growing population, a post office was built, which established a more permanent residency in 1888.
In 1889, the local Christian Assembly created an institution for higher learning called the “Graham Normal College”. The founders of Elon College named the school “Elon,” because they understood that to be the Hebrew word for oak, and the area contained many oak trees. The town was called "Elon College" until the college known as Elon College became Elon University. The town then changed its name officially to Elon.
The economy of the town of Elon is largely dominated by the adjacent Elon University. Downtown Elon is home to the three-story, 24,000-square-foot, Elon Town Center, managed by Elon University. The Town Center was renovated in 2012 to now include The Barnes and Noble Elon University Official Store, Pandora’s Pies, Acorn Coffee Shop, All That Jas, and other local businesses. Elon University named one of its on-campus housing complexes "The Station at Mill Point" after the old name of the town.