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Even though I lived there, I didn’t know any of this until right now.  According to Soest’s official webpage, Soesterberg has a rather “unexceptional” history, if you exclude the military presence, both Dutch and American:

The name Soesterberg has become known throughout the world since the founding of the Aviation Department on 1 July 1912.

In the early days the area was only heather. During the 17th century many Soest residents left the town, moved across the “mountain”, and settled down on the heatherland. The reasons they left included poverty and a desire for independence. They were mostly small farmers, called heather farmers in those days. Their sod houses were hidden in the heather, away from the road. They were afraid of highwaymen, who were very active in those days.

There was a lot of game in the heatherland then. This meant, of course, that poachers were very active. Many farmers started beekeeping, and others made brooms from materials natural to the heatherland.

A hundred years ago there was no church at Soesterberg. The people had to go over the mountain to worship in Soest. This changed when Soesterberg officially became a “parish”; before that time it was referred to as a district.

The name Soesterberg comes form the “heather mountain” of the Soest municipality, although “mountain” is a rather misleading word.

Soesterberg has no great history. But still there was the road connecting Amsterdam and Arnhem in the 17th century, which in 1800 was paved by order of Napoleon. At Huis ter Heide (house at the heatherland), just outside of Soesterberg, one can still find the house “Huis ter Halve”.  The postal coach halted there; highwaymen could see the coach coming from there and could make their preparations.

Off the top of my head, the Libyan Lockerbie bombers were tried in Soesterberg, but that’s another post for another day.


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