The Potawatamie Tribe and American pioneers are thought to be the earliest residents of Countryside and Indian Head Park. Moderate population growth was prompted by Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which left many city residents looking for new homes. Due to the affordability and availability of the Countryside area, some of these urbanites turned to the rural areas west of the city. Even so, the area was mostly low-population farmland until after World War II.
Chicago?s growth after World War II led in turn to housing booms in the less developed regions outside the city. Indian Head Park was originally established as a subdivision, spearheaded by a developer named Norman Higby. The community was incorporated as a village in 1951. Countryside was experiencing growth at about the same time, nearly tripling its population by 1960 and incorporating in that same year. Later in that decade, city streets, water works and retail developments were expanded, laying the groundwork for industrial growth that would continue through the 1980s.
Today, residents enjoy down-to-earth recreation locally and extensive cultural activities in nearby Chicago. Sports and interest groups allow residents a chance to socialize and have fun. Both are available through public or private channels. The La Grange Country Club has been the premier private club since its inception in 1899. The club offers golf, tennis, swimming, fine dining and entertainment programs to La Grange, Countryside, Indian Head Park and Western Springs residents. The golf course, designed by Tom Bendelow and William Langford, has hosted the U.S. Women?s Open Golf Championship twice.
The Graue Mill and Museum in nearby Oak Brook is a local landmark, mainly for its role in the Underground Railroad in the 1800s. The mill is a registered historic place and also the only operating waterwheel gristmill in the state. In the mid-1800s, a German immigrant named Frederick Graue set out to build a grain mill next to Salt Creek using clay bricks and oak timbers. Five years later, the construction was complete and the mill opened for business. While the mill grinded wheat and corn grains grown by local farmers, Graue also housed slaves in the basement. Some historians believe that Graue also constructed tunnels from that basement to other hideouts. Today, the site is a museum dedicated to educating visitors about the mill?s role in helping slaves escape the oppressive South.
Other nearby sites to see include the Chicago Portage National Historic Site, Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, Cernan Earth and Space Center, the Ernest Hemingway Museum and Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art.
The Countryside/Indian Head Park area has four distinct seasons. In autumn, the trees and foliage provide vivid displays of greens, golds and oranges. Summer temperatures reach the 90s, while winters are significantly cooler in the mid-teens. The winter months also bring snowfalls to decorate rooftops and trees. On average, about 38 inches of snow falls between October and February.
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