Springtime in Elsah



There’s nothing I love better in this earthly life than springtime.  Watching the world wake up after a long, cold, hard winter in delicate shades of green, pink and yellow, stirs my tired, snow-weary soul.

Laura Ingalls, my hero, loved springtime too.  In Little Town on the Prairie (one of the best Little House books, in my opinion) Laura wrote,

“Now it was springtime.  The Dakota prairie so warm and bright under the shining sun that it did not seem possible that it had ever been swept by the hard winds and snows of that hard winter.  How wonderful it was to be on the claim again!  Laura wanted nothing more than just being outdoors.  She felt she never could get enough sunshine soaked into her bones.”

Can’t you just feel the sunshine on your face and smell the fresh grass after you read that passage?

To celebrate the advent of spring and to finally get outdoors, I recently visited the Village of Elsah, a tiny enclave nestled in the stunning Mississippi River Bluffs, just northwest of Alton, Illinois, off the Great River Road.

stone house 3

This 19th century village just oozes charm.  With a population of 673, Elsah retains much of its quaint architecture and gorgeous views from its original state featuring tiny gardens and the magnificent Mississippi River.


Elsah was founded in 1853, by James Semple, a local lawyer and politician. In 1973, the entire village was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Everywhere you turn there is something marvelous to see!

This place is SO charming that there’s even a bird house for its tiniest of residents, alongside the church!

I can’t get enough of the beautiful details in the village.  I decided on this visit that when I die I want a pineapple finial on my gravestone.  Why in the hell would you want to do that, you ask?  WHY IN THE HELL NOT, I SAY TO YOU!

Elsah’s architecture is a feast for the eyes, boasting Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Mansard, Italianate, Saltbox, and Gambrel styles.

There’s also a fantastic museum in the village dedicated to its beginnings and the founding members of its community.  A must-see if you stop for the day.  I love imagining what it must have been like when horse-drawn carriages pulled the 19th century inhabitants up and down the narrow streets in their best clothes on a Sunday morning.

museum 1

If there are any budding entrepreneurs or restaurateurs out there, I’m dying for this vacant building to be rechristened as the new Elsah’s Landing Restaurant.  If you don’t know about the original, curse your damn rotten luck because Elsah’s Landing was THE BEST RESTAURANT EVER.  This was Panera Bread Company before Panera Bread Company was a glimmer of an idea in Ken Rosenthal’s mind.  Unbelievable soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts abounded plus the coma-inducing potato bread…the cookbook is still for sale on amazon.com (http://amzn.to/2psGGQS).  I double dog dare someone to bring it back to its glory and I’ll pledge my unwavering business!

Until next time, Hank and I wish you a beautiful spring!

Annie and Hank Elsah


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