The population sign outside the town reads “1.” The one refers to Elsie Eiler, 77.
That makes Monowi, Nebraska the smallest incorporated town in America.
I was assigned to go there recently and produce a photo story to go with text that had been written much earlier. With this place really in the middle of nowhere it was problematic to send a photographer just to shoot this one person.
But when my editor saw that it was “only” a four hour drive from Omaha where I would be going to cover Warren Buffett and the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, the decision was made for me to make the trip to see Elsie.
The first shock when landing in this off the beaten track kind of place was the lodging. The nearest hotel (30 minutes from Monowi) was really a small motel, kind of like the Bates Motel in the movie “Psycho.” And yes I stayed in the room next to the lobby. I made sure there weren’t any peepholes.
When I first met Elsie Eiler the night I arrived she was serving up burgers and beer to her friends and neighbors, all patrons at the Monowi Tavern which she runs. Her sign behind the bar reads “coldest beer in town” which of course it is since it’s the only beer in town. For that matter it’s the only business.