THE EARLY YEARS
The first settlers came to the banks of the Kickapoo River in the 1850s and
established a small village called Pine Grove, in honor of the large groves of
white pine that were found here. The name of the village was changed to
Soldiers Grove in 1867 to honor the soldiers who had camped in the area during
the 1832 Blackhawk War. Early farming of wheat gave way to dairy farming,
and later tobacco farming became a way of life on the area's small family farms.
The story of Soldiers Grove is made up of chapters about Kickapoo River
floods. Heavy rains can transform the gentle river into a raging torrent.
The old town, which sat along the banks of the Kickapoo, was devastated by
floods in 1909, 1912, 1917, and 1935. A disastrous flood damaged the town
in 1951, while Soldiers Grove and other river towns awaited Federal flood
control. Then in July of 1978, the Kickapoo delivered the largest flood to
date. That record stood unbroken until 2007, when the Kickapoo delivered
its worst. And unbelievably, that record was broken less that one year later, in
Even before the 1978 flood, the residents of Soldiers Grove realized that it
was necessary to relocate their downtown. The 1978 flood jarred loose the
logjam in Washington, and Federal funds became available for the relocation.
Funding was obtained in part because the village agreed to incorporate solar
heating in all the new buildings. Over twenty new buildings were
constructed, utilizing solar energy for at least 50% of heating needs.
Solar Town was born.