Each week, we will be taking a look back at the fascinating history of Burr Ridge and separating fact from fiction. This week we bring you the first of a three part look at the so-called "forgotten towns" of our area from over a century ago.
Being an area that was founded over time where agriculture, trade and transportation converged, it was bound to happen that Burr Ridge would be betwixt and between. Village history can cite Harvester as a founding town, certainly. And there were active citizens in unincorporated South Hinsdale that shaped civic life before village incorporation. But what of those towns that were, but no longer are?
Over the next couple of columns, we look at those “forgotten” villages that shaped the daily lives of those who lived in our area over 150 years ago. This week is more “mystery” than “mythstory” as we take a look back at one town that disappeared: Tiedtville.
The late 1800s town known as Tiedtville had its beginnings with one Frederick C. Tiedt, whose childhood home once stood on the corner of 91st and Wolf Rd. in that “fuzzy” border between what much later would be Burr Ridge and Willow Springs. The area at the time saw an influx of immigrants and settlers who had come to do back-breaking work on the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal at the Des Plaines River and had stayed; as well as there being by-then established farming families that formed communities around such churches as Lyonsville Congregational (1843, 1858) and Trinity Lutheran (1865).
Entrepreneurial and enterprising, Tiedt started at first a saloon, post office and then general store. This formed the tiny 200-member town of Tiedtville. It would seem it was a good start. Tiedt added a picnic area near the Sante Fe Railroad stop that ran along the canal, convincing the Railroad to make weekend stops so visitors could take a rest from the bustle of work-a-day life under the shady trees of his 100-acre lot. Fishing, hunting and—presumably, beer drinking—was quite an attraction. Soon, Tiedt added even more recreational fun such as a bowling alley and dance hall. By 1897, he added a horse and bicycle racing track, with locals and city-folk alike joining in on the fun. Given its train stop in the area, the park became known as "Santa Fe Park."
Accessible, popular, affordable: Tiedtville/Santa Fe Park seemed destined for growth. But all good things must come to an end. First, a tornado struck, destroying much of the grandstands and facilities. Then, the Great Depression hit, impacting disposable income: making “recreation” of any sort un-affordable. When the Santa Fe Railroad discontinued its stop at the picnic grounds, growth was severely limited. Tiedtville slowly disappeared.
In its stead, a generation later in 1953, emerged Santa Fe Speedway, where on clear summer nights you could hear the roar of engines as they raced the half-mile track. And what happened to Santa Fe Speedway? Well, you’ll have to come by our exhibit to find out for yourself!
The Flagg Creek Heritage Society’s exhibit “From Tiedtville to Santa Fe” running through April 1. Memorabilia such as tickets, postcards, and historic images are on display along with a second exhibit “See the U.S.A” that features the long-beloved American family road trip in the days of "motoring."
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The Society operates the Flagg Creek Historical Museum and the Robert Vial House located on the grounds of the Pleasant Dale Park District at 7425 S. Wolf Road, Burr Ridge IL
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