Monowi, NE Has A Population Of Exactly One - Here's What It's Like To Be Its Only Resident

There are many forms of media, from books to film to music, that demonstrate what it is like to live in a small town. There isn't anything, however, that shows what it is like to live in Monowi, Nebraska, a town with one resident. 

Elsie Eiler, a woman in her 80s, is the only person left in the small town. She lived there with her husband, who passed away in 2004, and now spends her time managing a town that's likely to die with her. Monowi, for the most part, is a ghost town, but Eiler doesn't let that ruin her fun. The following depicts what it's like to live in a town with a population of one. 

  • It's The Only Incorporated Town With One Person

    Elsie Eiler is the only person living in Monowi, Nebraska. That's an impressive feat on its own, but the fact that Monowi is the only municipality in the country with one person - that's an even bigger deal. It's also one of its perks, holding a record for the only person to inhabit a city or town by yourself! 

    This title also comes with some draws: you become a media frenzy. Eiler apparently doesn't engage with most people who contact her, but a few people are lucky enough to gain some insights on what it's like to be the only person living in a town.

  • The Town's Library Is Named After Her Late Husband

    Considering that she's the only person in Monowi, it's pretty insane that the town's library holds 5,000 books. But perhaps this has to do with the fact that the library has real sentimental value for Eiler. Named after her husband, Rudy, the library was constructed in 2005 soon after he passed away. It was a dream of his to have a library in Monowi, a dream that Eiler was able to grant.

    "He had lots of books. He read all the time and always wanted to get 'em in one spot," she told CBS News. And despite being the only resident of Monowi, Rudy's Library is a popular destination for people who live in the areas around Monowi. 

  • Eiler Has Appointed Herself Mayor Of The Tiny Town

    Eiler Has Appointed Herself Mayor Of The Tiny Town
    Photo: Fotor

    Sole resident means sole ruler. Eiler is the self-appointed mayor of Monowi, a job only she can do, considering there is nobody else to do it. Most towns this small will simply fall into the realm of unincorporated territory, but Eiler did not let that happen. Not only does she serve as the town's mayor, but she also acts as the village clerk, treasurer, and council. 

    Besides making sure that the only resident of Monowi - herself - pays taxes, one of the great things about being mayor is that Eiler produces a municipal road plan annually, which enables her to get state funding for Monowi's four street lights. Eiler states that Monowi's budget is around $500 a year.   

  • She Owns And Operates The Town Tavern

    There's only one business still operating in Monowi. It's probably pretty easy to guess who runs it.

    Eiler is not only Monowi's only resident, she's also its only business owner. She is the owner and operator of the town's tavern, classically named Monowi Tavern, which she bought with her husband in 1971. 

    One would think, given her relative fame, that most of the tavern's customers would be visiting tourists, but it's actually full of locals, people who have been coming for a long time.

  • She Granted Herself A Liquor License, Because She Can

    She Granted Herself A Liquor License, Because She Can
    Photo: Foter

    If you've talked to any bar owner or operator in any major city like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, or Chicago, you know that obtaining a liquor license is probably your biggest obstacle. They cost thousands and thousands of dollars and are the only way you can legally sell liquor.

    The great thing about being the mayor of your own town - the only governing body of your town, really - is that you can easily grant yourself a liquor license to run your tavern. That's something. Another situation where Eiler's in luck! 

  • Her Idea Of "Neighbor" Is Very Different

    When you think of your neighbor, most of us think of someone in close proximity, maybe a family a few doors down you can reliably borrow flour from when you're out. As the only resident of Monowi, Elier's definition of neighbor had to be revised.

    She told Country Living, "When you get out in an area like this, people 20 to 40 miles away are considered neighbors. We're like one big family. If anything happens, they're there to sympathize with you." 

    While Elier can certainly rely on her "neighbors" for some things, a cup or two of flour is probably not one of them. On the other hand, she did tell CBS Sunday Morning that "If I get that busy, somebody else gets up and gets a beer and tends the bar and I tell 'em don't worry, I can count your empties."