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Elsah, Illinois facts for kids

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Building at Mill and Selma Streets, Elsah
Building at Mill and Selma Streets, Elsah
Location of Elsah in Jersey County, Illinois.
Location of Elsah in Jersey County, Illinois.
Location of Jersey County within Illinois
Location of Jersey County within Illinois
Country United States
State Illinois
County Jersey
Township Elsah
 • Type Mayor-Council
 • Total 1.09 sq mi (2.83 km2)
 • Land 1.09 sq mi (2.83 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
433 ft (132 m)
 • Total 519
 • Density 475.27/sq mi (183.47/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code(s) 618
FIPS code 17-23776

Elsah is a village in Jersey County, Illinois. As of the 2020 census, the village had a total population of 519. Mike Pitchford is the village's current acting mayor.

It is the home of Principia College.

Elsah is a part of the Metro-East region and the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Elsah is located at 38°57′13″N 90°21′17″W / 38.95361°N 90.35472°W / 38.95361; -90.35472 (38.953720, -90.354732).

According to the 2010 census, the village has a total area of 1.09 square miles (2.8 km2), all land.


James Semple, a local lawyer, prominent politician and United States Senator from Illinois, founded Elsah in 1853 and offered free lots to anyone who built houses with stone from his quarry. It is believed that he named the village of Elsah after Ailsa Craig, the last outcropping his family saw as they departed Scotland for the United States. By 1861, the village had grown to its current size, as geographic and economic limitations prevented further expansion.

Although Elsah has been described as the "New England of the Midwest," the village is not a New England prototype derived from 18th century colonial styles. Rather, the architecture found in Elsah demonstrates 19th century styles and fashions including Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Mansard, Italianate, Saltbox, and Gambrel. Elsah prospered as the main shipping point for the agricultural goods produced by the farmers of Jersey County. The village's importance diminished with the coming of the railroad, later being revitalized when Principia College was established in the 1930s.

Elsah remained mainly a quiet village until the opening of the Great River Road (Illinois Route 100) in 1964. Elsah is a community whose homes are privately owned. In 1973, the entire village was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Great Flood of 1993 caused significant damage to many of the village's structures.

The historic commercial district on LaSalle Street, which extends three blocks inward from the river, consists mainly of stone buildings; all but one of its pre-1861 buildings, including all four of the village's historic taverns, still stand. The other two districts are both located on Mill Street and are primarily residential; the larger one is three blocks long and has an assortment of stone and brick houses, while the smaller section has a single block of Greek Revival homes.

Today, Elsah's proximity to bald eagle watching locations make it a popular destination during the fall and winter seasons. Elsah's location on the Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail also makes it a popular stop for bicyclists enjoying the Great River Road in any season.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 250
1890 271 8.4%
1900 220 −18.8%
1910 267 21.4%
1920 167 −37.5%
1930 137 −18.0%
1940 175 27.7%
1950 520 197.1%
1960 507 −2.5%
1970 928 83.0%
1980 990 6.7%
1990 851 −14.0%
2000 635 −25.4%
2010 673 6.0%
2020 519 −22.9%
Decennial US Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 635 people, 69 households, and 40 families residing in the village. The population density was 598.1 people per square mile (231.3/km2). There were 102 housing units at an average density of 96.1 per square mile (37.2/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 90.08% White, 4.25% African American, 0.63% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 1.42% from other races, and 2.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.31% of the population.

There were 69 households, out of which 23.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.6% were non-families. 40.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.04 and the average family size was 2.71.

In the village, the population was spread out, with 4.6% under the age of 18, 77.0% from 18 to 24, 6.3% from 25 to 44, 8.0% from 45 to 64, and 4.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 21 years. For every 100 females, there were 84.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.6 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $57,083, and the median income for a family was $60,000. Males had a median income of $47,500 versus $26,964 for females. The per capita income for the village was $13,154. None of the population or families were below the poverty line.


The Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway passes through Elsah. The Elsah area was also one of the two finalists for the site of the Air Force Academy in 1954.


Principia College (2152575562)
Principia College Chapel

Elsah includes Principia College, a four-year liberal-arts private college for Christian Scientists. The campus area, known as the Principia College Historic District, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places that same year.

Notable people

This article is about individuals from Elsah. For individuals who attended Principia College, see List of Principia College alumni.

  • Robert Duvall, Academy Award-winning actor, is an alumnus of Principia College in Elsah
  • Herbert G. Giberson, Illinois state senator and businessman
  • James Semple, United States Senator from Illinois, diplomat of New Granada, and founder of Elsah

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Elsah para niños

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