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Guided tours of Principia College and/or the Village of Elsah are provided by the Historic Elsah Foundation. For more information or to arrange a tour, please email us at or call Jane Pfeifer 618 374 1565.

Historic Elsah, Illinois

American towns change almost as fast as American fashions. When something of the old remains in this dynamic society it is, of course, usually a building. But most old buildings stand isolated and strange amid modernity, and tell no more of the past than a stranded whale tells of the open ocean.


Occasionally, though, one finds a town in which the prevailing flavor is of the past.  Elsah is such a town. Almost all of a piece, it gives us a strong hint of the setting of nineteenth century life along the river. In some ways, because of the passing of home industries and the fact that Elsah's once active waterfront now lies beneath the McAdams Highway, the town today is quieter than it once must have been. Mills, warehouses, river shipping, two railroads, numerous local businesses, and throngs of farmers during the wheat shipping season all have disappeared. But many of the houses and commercial buildings remain, and it is they which make coming to Elsah like stepping back in time.


People are generally fascinated with such places, perhaps because they discover a side of themselves that existed before they did, a society built on different dimensions, living at a slower speed, with forgotten crafts, using similar materials, suggesting lives lived in valid ways we no longer know.”


Excerpt from page 4:

Elsah: A Historic Guidebook

by Charles B. Hosmer, Jr. and Paul O. Williams,
Elsah: Historic Elsah Foundation, 1986


Elsah Historic Foundation    

PO Box 117 Elsah, IL 62028     Phone 618.374.1059     Fax 618.374.1565