Location of Elsah within Jersey County, Illinois
|Elevation||433 ft (132 m)|
|Area||1.09 sq mi (2.8 km2)|
|- land||1.09 sq mi (3 km2)|
|- water||0.00 sq mi (0 km2), 0%|
|Density||617.4 / sq mi (238.4 / km2)|
|- summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
Elsah is located at (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.
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.
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.
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.
Elsah includes Principia College, a four-year 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.
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.
- James Semple, (1798-1866) United States Senator from Illinois, diplomat of New Granada, and founder of Elsah
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Places: Illinois". 2010 Census Gazetteer Files. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
- Elsah description & history, retrieved August 24, 2007
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Village of Elsah website