Elsmore, a community of 66 residents in southeastern Allen County, is a proud farming center with a strong community spirit and identity.
Like its “twin” city of Savonburg, Elsmore was settled originally by Swedish immigrants and has always been based, economically and socially, around agriculture and the railroad. Now in its 120th year, Elsmore is a neat and tidy community of well-tended homes and civic-minded neighbors.
Public life in Elsmore is centered on the town’s community center, which boasts a large gymnasium and stage, and the town’s religious congregations.
Elsmore’s population has followed the track of most Allen County communities in recent years, with a sudden and dramatic drop in population beginning in 2000.
There are no statistics detailing the health conditions of Elsmore residents. Anecdotal evidence suggests, though, that Elsmore is similar to neighboring Savonburg in that it appears to have lower rates of obesity and smoking compared to other Allen County towns.
Cultural norms of moderation and temperance passed down by the original Swedish settlers may contribute to this phenomenon. Or, Elsmore’s geographical isolation may provide fewer temptations like fast food restaurants that tend to serve high-fat, high-calorie meals.
Elsmore’s aging population is at a disadvantage when it comes to easy access to health care. The nearest medical clinic (The Family Physicians) is located 9 miles away in Moran. Thrive is studying how to bring mobile healthcare options to Elsmore in an effort to ensure that those with mobility limitations are served.
PARKS AND RECREATION
Elsmore lacks public parks, playground equipment and adequate sidewalks. Creating walking paths around the town would not only encourage walking but also provide a safer avenue for pedestrians, while a small park would be an attractive amenity for current and prospective residents. Thrive is studying ways to improve these conditions in Elsmore and other small communities around the county.
An October 2008 study by Thrive counted 58 houses in Elsmore, of which at least 7 are abandoned. The community is almost entirely comprised of single family homes, including mobile homes. Most single family homes in Elsmore are estimated to have been constructed prior to 1969.
BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY
The Elsmore Feed Store and nearby Master Bait and Liquor (yes, that’s really the name) are the Elsmore area’s primary commercial establishments. The nearest largescale shopping and employment centers are in Humboldt, Iola or Chanute.
Elsmore has Allen County’s highest median age—51.5—which has serious implications for the community’s future. With such a high median age it is likely that the community will experience a rapid and sudden drop in population due to death in the next two decades. Elsmore should consider offering financial incentives to attract new residents that can help broaden the town’s tax base and increase the likelihood the community will survive.
And as with several Allen County communities, geography is a serious challenge for Elsmore, particularly as it relates to accessing healthcare. As residents age and fuel costs increase it will become increasingly important to identify ways to bring healthcare services to Elsmore residents.
For many years Elsmore has had a relatively low local property tax rate. While this minimizes costs for residents, it also limits the town’s ability to invest in services that would make it more attractive to new residents. Elsmore has an opportunity to raise more revenue to improve its attractiveness as a community if that is what the community decides is a priority. Elsmore’s greatest asset is its people. These residents have hope for the future, and they are willing to work hard and fight for their community. With a concrete vision for their future and the hard work of its people, Elsmore has the opportunity to survive for another 120 years.