What It's Like to Be the Only Resident In a “Population: 1” Town


Elsie Eiler pays taxes to herself and grants her own liquor license as the mayor, bartender, librarian and sole resident of Monowi, Nebraska. The 85-year-old has become somewhat of a local legend and a national treasure. Eiler became the sole resident of Monowi in 2004, after her husband Rudy passed away. Elsie met Rudy in the third grade, and at age 19 married him when he returned from France where he had served in Air Force during the Korean War. They lived in Omaha briefly before settling down in Monowi and opening the tavern in 1975. Once a thriving cattle-industry town aided by a central railway system, Monowi dwindled to a population of just 18 by 1980, and eventually just Elsie. She’s found that people will go out of their way to stop by Monowi, with visitors from 47 states and 40 other countries making their way to the rural town. The one thing Elsie wants people to know is that she’s not as lonely as they might assume. "I see people all day long, coming and going, strangers and regulars. When I go home at night, I'm perfectly happy to have that time to myself."