MNN Galleries

12 U.S. places where your visit could double the population

By: Laura Moss on Dec. 22, 2017, 9:30 a.m.
Rudy's Library in Monowi, Nebraska

Photo: Bkell/Wikimedia Common [CC by 1.0]

2 of 14

Monowi, Nebraska

When you enter this Nebraska town, a road sign will tell you the village has a population of two, but Elsie Eiler is the only remaining resident. Eiler's husband, Rudy, died in 2004, which halved the population. Monowi's population peaked at 150 during the 1930s, but like many small towns in the Great Plains, it lost residents to larger cities with more job opportunities.

Today, Eiler is not only Monowi's sole resident, but she’s also the mayor, librarian and bartender. She manages the town's budget (about $500 a year) at "city hall," an old desk inside the town's only business, the Monowi Tavern, and once a year she raises "taxes" to keep the village's four streetlights functioning. Nearby towns supply most of the tavern's customers who say the $2.50 hamburgers and $2 beers are the best in town. (Eiler granted her own liquor license.) Behind the tavern sits a 5,000-book library that Eiler constructed in 2005 in memory of her husband. The library (pictured) was her late husband's dream, and it's become a hit with residents of surrounding towns.