Friday, October 25, 2019

Elsah, Illinois... A Village Frozen In Time.

Unheard of by most, this tiny village of Elsah on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River is one of the loveliest places to visit. Preserved in its 19th-century condition, it was cut off from the rest of the state and is now a time machine to the past. 
James Semple, a local lawyer, a prominent politician and United States Senator from Illinois, founded Elsah in 1853 and offered free lots to anyone who built a house with stone from his nearby quarry. It's believed Semple named the village after Ailsa Craig, a Scottish island that was the last bit of land his family saw as they left Scotland for the United States.

Elsah flourished as a shipping point for Jersey County farmers and a critical link to the Mississippi River.
Hidden by a valley of bluffs and forests, Elsah was once a vibrant riverside town that lost popularity once the railroad came through this area, as tracks could not be built through these rock formations. Due to being cut off physically and economically, the town never developed past its 19th-century roots and maintains the original buildings constructed during the village's settlement. 
The village's beauty can be attributed to its founder, who insisted that anyone who moved there build their residence foundations out of stone, which today adds romantic charm to this riverside wonderland. It is beautiful at any time of year and will take you back to a simpler time. Elsah is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and contains many wonders, including several inns and an old-fashioned general store. 
Illinois' best-kept secret is a village frozen in time that will show you what life was like centuries ago. Take your time meandering through the bluffs and enjoy the lovely scenery around Elsah.
By 1861, the village had grown to its current size, as geographic and economic limitations prevented further expansion.

The village of Elsah experienced a revival when Principia College opened, a 2,600-acre campus on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in 1930. In 1934, Principia's new four-year liberal arts college graduated its first class. Principia College is a private liberal arts, Christian Science college founded in 1898 in St. Louis.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


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