Santa Cruz Sentinel: Alumna to Head Beloved Railroad Attraction

Roaring Camp Railroads names new CEO

Originally published by the Santa Cruz Sentinel Jan. 2, 2012.

By Jondi Gumz

A new chief is taking the helm at Roaring Camp Railroads, the local tourist attraction where Norman Clark ran the first steam train ride in 1963.

It’s Melani Clark, Norman’s daughter, who has been working alongside her mother, Georgia Clark, who took over as CEO after her husband died in 1985.

“It’s not something I gave in hesitation,” said Georgia Clark, 77, who has worked at Roaring Camp for 45 years.

She said Melani, her middle daughter, is familiar with all facets of the company. She has worked in every department — food, the depot, the general store, and as a fireman running the train’s steam engine.

A San Lorenzo Valley High School graduate, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from San Jose State and is author of the book, “Violet Secret,” which is on sale at Roaring Camp.

The new chief is in New York City, looking for ideas for next season.

The tourist attraction, depicting life in the 1880s, employs about 60 people during the summer and 40 during the slow season.

The railroad, which operates every day except Christmas, just wrapped up the Holiday Lights train rides. From January to March, the railroad offers “rain forest rides,” named for the aura of mist in the redwoods during the winter.

Norman Clark came to Felton in 1958 with the idea of building a recreational railroad. With investors, he got a 99-year lease on the Big Tree Ranch property, and turned his dream into reality.