• Beth Kilgo

Smallest town in the U.S., population: 1


Monowi is the only incorporated village with a population of one in the United States, although there are two more incorporated villages with less than ten residents in Boyd County, Neb., where the village is located.

Elsie Eiler is the mayor, clerk, treasurer, librarian, and bartender, along with the last person left in the smallest town in the United States.

Each year, she hangs up a notice in Monowi’s only business (her bar) advertising mayoral elections, and then votes for herself, according to the BBC. She is also required to secure funding for a municipal road plan and raise taxes from herself to pay for the lights and water for the town.

Although there are no other people in town, Eiler has regulars at her tavern. The majority of them live 20 to 30 miles away; however, there are some who travel 200 miles to visit her. The tavern essentially serves as a community living room.

The only other public building in Monowi is just a few steps away from Eiler’s home and the tavern. The BBC reports that “Just before he passed away in 2004, Rudy confided that his dying wish was to turn his private book collection into a public library.”

“I’m happy here. I grew up here, I’m used to this and I know what I want. It’s just hard to change after so many years,” Eiler said.

During the 1930’s, Monowi was a bustling town, home to 150 people along with “grocery shops, restaurants and even a prison,” according to the BBC.

The town’s tavern was reopened by Eiler and her husband, Rudy, in 1971; however, by the time the tavern reopened, farming conditions had worsened and the towns’ economy had collapsed.

The BBC reported, “The final funeral held in Monowi’s wooden church was for Eiler’s father in 1960. Then the post office and last of the three grocery shops closed between 1967 and 1970, followed by the school in 1974.” Both of Eilers’ children moved away in the mid 1970’s to search for work.

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