In the early 1850’s, settlers came to the pine-rich area along the Kickapoo and came to call it “Pine Grove”. In 1867, the name was changed to “Soldiers Grove” in remembrance of the soldiers that had camped in the area during the Blackhawk War in 1832. Early inhabitants processed pine shipped down the Kickapoo in saw mills and farmed the rich land in the Kickapoo Valley watershed.
That watershed would eventually create a very large problem for the small community as well as others along the Kickapoo and the US Government was enlisted to aid the village. This eventually resulted in the entirety of the Village being moved to higher ground, away from the floodplain beginning in 1978, amidst one of the worst floods in the Village’s history.
The move would not be complete for a number of years and a curious thing happened during the move – due in part to the energy crises of the 1970’s, the Village decided on a fateful course of action and decided that all new buildings in the “New Town” as the residents call it, would be heated by at least 50% solar energy. Ordinances were also passed to ensure that no building in the new town could block another’s sunlight and that the new buildings “be built to specific thermal performance standards twice as stringent as those require by state law at the time.” America’s First Solar Village was created.
Interestingly, the Village did not receive Federal funding for the solar aspect of the Village. It typifies a can-do, ecologically minded population that Soldiers Grove is still known for.
These days, the “new town” is located along US 61, where it continues to prosper. Businesses still utilize solar energy and the unique profile of the buildings makes them a treat for visitors, creating a picturesque tableau. While the “old town” no longer has businesses, it is home to Beauford T. Anderson Park. The park has camping, with hook-ups for RV’s and is easily accessible to car camping and each year, hosts several festivals, including Soldiers Grove Fun Days, The Driftless Area Art Festival, and Swampfest (sponsored by the Myrtle Lake Project).
There is also a canoe/kayak ramp in the park, as well as several local eateries and taverns. Check out https://www.villageofsoldiersgrove.org/ for lots more information on local establishments and events!