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The Clark Family

The Clark Family

George A. Clark

For over fifty years, the Rahway Valley Railroad was closely managed by three generations of the Clark family. Louis Keller, the inept 'golfing' railroad president that was a main promoter, investor, and founder of the Rahway Valley Railroad was running it at a loss in the years after, and even before, World War I.

Robert H. England, the self proclaimed "traveling short line general manager," was hired as the railroad's Secretary and General Manager by Louis Keller in 1919. There was no doubt that England needed help straightening out Keller's mess so he called upon his good friend, Roger A. Clark .

Clark had started his career on the Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburgh Railroad and by the early 1900s was an Auditor for the railroad. England was serving as General Manager of a nearby short line, the Dansville & Mount Morris Railroad. Being railroaders of the same territory, Clark and England became acquainted and grew to become friends.

Never staying in one place for long, England took a job as General Manager of the Central Railroad of Oregon (later the Union Railroad of Oregon) in 1909 and convinced Clark to come west with him. Once in Oregon, Roger Clark became the Auditor for the Central Railroad of Oregon.

England brought Clark east along with him to the Rahway Valley Railroad in 1919 in an attempt to straighten out the railroad's books and set it on the right track to make a profit.

While England resigned from his position as the Rahway Valley Railroad's President and General Manager in 1920 to manage the Buffalo, Union-Carolina Railroad, Clark decided to his make his position with the Rahway Valley a more permanent one.

Roger Clark had left his family, his wife Mary, and children George and Ruth, in the west. Originally only thought to be a temporary position with the Rahway Valley, Clark decided he was in for the long haul and brought his family east to live, settling at 2204 Morris Ave., Union, NJ in 1920.

Keller hired George Clark on to be the General Freight Agent up at the Springfield Station, but that wouldn't last. Louis Keller died in 1922. His death as well as the deaths and resignations of several of Keller's associates left the positions of President, Vice President, Secretary, and General Manager vacant.

Keller's heirs, his nephews Louis Lawrence and Charles Keller Beekman and his niece Catherine Huger, appointed Roger Clark to fill the positions of President, General Manager, and Secretary of the railroad and George A. Clark filled the position of Vice President.

Together Roger and his son George brought the line from the brink of disaster. Roger with his business finesse brought several businesses (coal and fuel dealers, lumber yards, etc.) to locate on the vacant property along the line, much of which was owned by Louis Keller's Estate.

Not only that, he upgraded the old worn out locomotives with two consolidations from the Lehigh & New England in 1929 (# 13 & 14) but his greatest accomplishment was the forging of the connection with the Lackawanna in Summit in 1931, after a 25-year struggle to make the juncture.

Roger A. Clark died in 1932 after several years of health ailments, and in his final years he was confined to a wheel chair. Beekman, Lawrence, and Huger (Keller's heirs) replaced the late Clark with his son, George A. Clark following his death.

Although Roger set the ground work, George brought the line to make a true net profit in 1936. Rough and tumble, 6 foot 3 inch, George A. Clark was known for his temper and hands on managing style. Reported to of once punched a freight salesman "square in the jaw" for re-routing a good chunk of Rahway's traffic elsewhere and to of "cursed out" his employees the day they rammed #13 into an excavator.

Robert G. "Bob" Clark.
Collection of Corinne Clark.

But George was never afraid to lend a hand, often filling in as engineer, brakeman, or conductor on one of his trains if needed, and sometimes subbing as Section Foreman.

During George's tenure as President and General Manager, the Rahway Valley was a moneymaker, thanks to his handy work.

George Clark lived and breathed the Rahway Valley Railroad and dedicated his life to making it a success.

George passed in 1969 and by that time things were already on the downswing for the railroad. His son, Robert "Bob" Clark succeeded him at the helm. Bob and Frank Reilly worked to solicit business for the railroad and for a while it was successful.

Bob passed suddenly in 1975 at the age of 45, ending three generations of Clark management.


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