Tiedtville, Santa Fe Park and Santa Fe Speedway

Frederick “Fred” C. Tiedt was born in 1868 at the family home on 91st and Wolf Road. A born entrepreneur, Fred spied an opportunity to capitalize on the presence of over 2,000 ditch diggers who were working on the Des Plaines River Sanitary Canal–he opened a saloon.   The Tiedt family businesses included a general store and post office, which along with some farmhouses along Wolf Road, became known as Tiedtville. Tiedtville was  located in unincorporated Hinsdale near present day Burr Ridge and Willow Springs.

In the late 1800s, Tiedtville had about 200 residents nestled around 100 acres of woods. After the canal workers left the area, Fred developed a picnic area on a wooded grove near the Santa Fe railroad stop.  The Santa Fe railroad agreed to make special stops on the weekends, which attracted many city dwellers to the the picnic site. City dwellers would visit for a day or stay in a cabin to fish and hunt. The railroad built two spur tracks: one at the tavern for delivering beer and coal and the other track transporting passengers to the Park.  Tiedt expanded the area’s attractions adding a dance hall and bowling alley. The enterprise was lucrative with Tiedt sometimes making $1, 500 to $2,000 a day. (“Where racing is a family affair” by Copper Rollow, Chicago Tribune, May 29, 1986).

Using his business acumen, Fred continued to grow his business enterprises. In 1896-97, Fred expanded the picnic grove to include a $6,000 quarter mile track for horse and bicycle races. Horse-drawn land scrapers consisting of sixteen teams of horses built the track which included two grandstands.  Initially, farmers raced their horses. As the picnic grove and race track expanded, they were called Santa Fe Park. During the 1920s, a tornado wiped out the grandstands, and racing was discontinued. (“Where racing is a family affair” by Copper Rollow, Chicago Tribune, May 29, 1986).

Fred also continued to build upon the family’s success, and started the annual Farmer’s Harvest Day Picnic. The event began as a way to help local farmers celebrate the end of the harvest. The popularity of the Farmers’ Day Picnic continued well into the 1950s. The Santa Fe Railroad, eventually, canceled its special arrangement with Santa Park due to the rowdiness of the passengers. This, along with the Great Depression, adversely impacted Santa Fe Park.

Fred Tiedt and his wife (Amanda Prescott) had four sons: Ralph, Lawrence, Howard, and Emery. When Fred died in 1946, his son Howard took over Santa Fe Park. Exhibiting the same entrepreneurial skills as his father, Howard formed a corporation to rebuild the race tracks–this time capitalizing on the growing popularity of stock car racing. In 1953, the Santa Fe Speedway opened. The Speedway had a quarter and a half mile track with a motor cross course and two grandstands. The track used blue clay from southern Illinois for its surface.  Howard added motorcycle races and other promotions such as the Tournament of Destruction and  Powder Puff.  Howard died in 1990 and his daughter managed the Speedway until it closed in 1995.  Read Stan Kalwasinski’s history of the Santa Fe Speedway for more information about this popular venue.

16 thoughts on “Tiedtville, Santa Fe Park and Santa Fe Speedway

  1. 9100 South Wolf Rd oh the memories, WOO sprints wheeling front and back stretch. All the IRA modified shows, as well as the 200, It will never be duplicated.

  2. Dad built a home on the “S” curve” on wolf road in 1938-39. We went to the store in Tiedville many times,,. Dad knew a guy named “Garth”. I went to opening day at the stock car track. It was free. I also remember the “store”/tavern burned in about 1958.
    Went to the Farmers picnic, and would go with Mom to pick mushrooms in the woods. OH, I was born in 1939, so I was just a wee lad when we picked those mushrooms. My cousins lived in Willow Springs.

    1. I lived just down the street from SFS during the 80s and have many great memories of attending the races with my father. The noise “pollution” was such that the Speedway gave free passes (and line-skipping privileges) to local residents. I remember the neighborhood being pretty bummed when it closed in the mid 90s, and I find it especially depressing to see it converted to a typical suburban neighborhood with no clues to its past. Even growing up in the area I was completely unaware of the older history of the area, and would love to see pics of the original park!

  3. My grandpa raced here back in the day trying to find out more information kind a cool to know that he raced his name was John Martin! Thanks

    1. Try contacting the Flagg Creek Heritage Society for information about your grandfather John Martin.
      You can contact them via their website flaggcreekheritagesociety.com or by phone 708/246-1160.

  4. Thank you for posting this info. Of course I heard radio announcements for racing at Santa Fe Speedway, but did not connect it with reference to “Santa Fe Park,” which I found in old Santa Fe Ry timetables. Interesting stuff.

    Am looking for any pix of the railroad stop known as Santa Fe Park. Does anyone has such an animal? If so, what arrangements can be made to obtain a copy (which would be used solely for inclusion in my personal collection on the ATSF).

    Wm Shapotkin

  5. I was wondering if you would have knowledge of a fire that destroyed the concession stand? And what year that occurred. Thank you. Great article. I remember going the Santa Fe park growing up

    1. Thank you for your comment. I love working on local history and am grateful for the help I receive from the Flagg Creek Heritage Society.

  6. Thanks for the site and information. I have a postal card with a Tiedtville, November 28th, 1946 cancel and was having no luck finding any information about Tiedtville.

    1. So glad you found this entry! Flagg Creek Heritage Society Museum’s current display features Tiedtville and Santa Fe Speedway. The museum is located on the Pleasant Dale Park District property at 7425 South Wolf Road, Burr Ridge, Illinois and is open most Mondays from 10:00 to 1 p.m. and the first Sunday of the month, April to October from 2 to 4 p.m.

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