Welcome to the Village of Elsah
Jersey County, Illinois

American towns change almost as fast as American fashions. When something of the old remains in this society, it is a resource to be treasured. Such is the Village of Elsah, Illinois, located just 40 minutes from St. Louis. Missouri, on the Great River Road and the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway. Elsah encourages visitors to park and walk its streets rich in history, architecture, and beauty. Its narrow valley setting, tucked between high bluffs, delights the eye in every season: in autumn color, winter white, spring blossoms, or summer bloom. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973, Elsah gives us a strong hint of nineteenth century living along the Mississippi River. Here you are invited to leave the fast pace of everyday life and enjoy its special character and quiet atmosphere.

The Village of Elsah, named by James Semple in 1853, is a town with prevailing feeling of the past. It gives a strong hint of the setting of life along the river in the 1800’s. The village today is quieter and more residential than it must have been. Mills, warehouses, river shipping, two railroads, numerous local businesses, and throngs of farmers during the shipping season all have disappeared. Yet, many of the houses and some commercial buildings remain, giving a feeling of stepping back in time.

Elsah buildings represent a Midwestern interpretation of 19th century vernacular styles. The prevalent style of the earliest houses is a simplified Greek Revival. Later buildings sometimes incorporated elements of other styles such as Gothic, Second Empire, or Italianate. The appealing aspect of Elsah is that so many original buildings remain in their original settings. When new buildings and additions remain in scale with the old, one feels that little has changed. People are generally fascinated with Elsah because they can discover a side of themselves that existed before they did. Here is a place where the past blends gracefully with the present. Visitors will find Elsah: A Historic Guidebook, published by the Historic Elsah Foundation, a valuable source of information about the history, people, and buildings of this unique community. It can be purchased at the Village of Elsah Museum.

In addition to the various walking excursions available in the village, Elsah also encourages you to take advantage of the area’s many miles of scenic beauty on bicycle. Bikers are encouraged to travel the Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail, which beginning at the entrance of the village, goes east toward Alton or west to Grafton and Pere Marquette State Park. Along the bike path you will experience the majestic beauty of the bluffs, panoramic views of the mighty Mississippi River, and quaint villages and river towns along the way.

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For more information on Elsah and the surrounding area
the following links have been provided:
The entire town is designated a historic district and the village of Elsah has put together a virtual tour for interested readers.