The smallest town in America

Hey Thoughty2 here. If you’re traveling deep in the American Midwest, through the barren plains of Nebraska you’ll pass a tiny collection of buildings, all but one of them are abandoned and decaying, you’ll probably pass by and think nothing more about it. But this is the smallest town in all of America, with a population of just one, Elsie Eiler. Monowi is the only officially incorporated municipality in the United States with a population of just one. Sure you may know a weird friend who moved out of his mother’s basement into a mobile home in the forest, because he thinks the government have tapped his phone and put a camera in his box of Cheerios, but that doesn’t count, unlike Monowi, your crazy friend’s trailer is not officially a town. But Monowi wasn’t always so tiny, it was once a thriving town, a small town, but a town nonetheless. Monowi was founded in 1902 by European settlers from the Czech Republic. It reached its peak in the 1930s, when it boasted a handsome population of 150, there was even a high school in Monowi. But the draw of the big city and the jobs it offers was too great and one by one the city’s younger residents moved away from Monowi, including Elsie’s own children. By the late 1900s all that was left was Elsie and her husband Rudy. Despite there only being the two of them they had a nice little place to call home, Rudy ran the local library and Elsie ran the tavern. You might be wondering why a town with a grand population of two, needs a library and a tavern. But the two establishments get quite a lot of custom from passing travelers and visiting farmers from nearby towns, who are probably quite thankful to stumble across Elsie’s one-woman beer shack, because this is the middle of absolutely nowhere. Unfortunately, in 2004 half of the town of Monowi tragically died. Rudy sadly passed away and so the town sign had to be changed from a population of 2 to just 1. But good old Elsie, as devastated as she was, continued running the tavern and library all by herself and still does to this day. She spends most of her days socialising with the vast assortment of visitors that pass through the town and stop for one of her famous homemade burgers. But it doesn’t stop there. Since Elsie is Monowi’s only resident she is also the self-elected town Mayor as well as bartender and librarian. Running a town is no small feat, certain legal obligations have to be met, even if it is only for one person. Elsie has to pay herself taxes and she has to grant her own liquor license to run the tavern. She also has to produce a municipal road plan every year to secure state funding to keep its four street lights running. Monowi must be the only town in America where you can get served a burger and a beer by the town Mayor. Or maybe not, because thirty-minutes down the road from Monowi is a little town called Gross, yeah, seriously, someone named a town Gross. Gross is twice the size of Monowi, with a grand population of two. Man and wife Mary and Mike Finnegan are the town’s only residents, and just like Elsie of Monowi, they run a tavern and Mike is also self-elected town mayor. Gross and Monowi are representative of a larger problem going on across the Great Plains of America. People are rapidly abandoning small towns in search of better jobs and opportunities in large cities. Large chain stores are also eradicating the need for farms. But Elsie is staying strong and stubbornly refuses to move, despite the fact that she actually lives in a ghost town, a few years ago this was one of the town’s main streets, now overgrown with vegetation. The local church is boarded up and all the houses, except Elsie’s, are decaying into the ground. She likes to have a laugh with herself though, the Monowi Inn advertises “the coldest beer in town” yeah, it’s also the only beer in town. Thanks for watching.

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