Clark Shaw, a Tennessee tourism leader who built Casey Jones Village in Jackson into a popular roadside attraction featuring a restaurant a train museum, a country store, an ice cream parlor and even a farm, has died. He was 66.
Shaw died Nov. 25 at a hospital in Jackson from complications related to COVID-19, said his son, Brooks Shaw. Funeral services, including an online memorial, have been set for later this week.
Clark Shaw's father started the business as a country store in 1965. Clark Shaw then opened Casey Jones Village in 1978 on 25 acres (10 hectares) on the intersection of Interstate 40 and U.S. Highway 45. Countless road travelers making their way through west Tennessee to places throughout the South have stopped at the village which honors the legendary railroad engineer who lived in Jackson, located between Nashville and Memphis
“He was into tourism before tourism was cool,” Brooks Shaw said of his father, who would chase down tour buses on the highway to get them to stop at the village and take photos at other restaurants and tourist attractions to draw inspiration for his business. “He saw the vision, with the interstate coming through.”
Clark Shaw had fought to keep the family-owned attraction viable during the coronavirus outbreak, which forced tourist spots and restaurants throughout Tennessee to temporarily close in April before reopening in May. He made improvements to the Old County Store and restaurant, which moved from its familiar buffet to family-style dining before bringing back the all-you-can-eat smorgasbord featuring fried chicken, greens and hot water cornbread in October.
“We survived, and we learned some lessons,” Brooks Shaw said.
Throughout his life, Shaw treasured his family, friends, employees, customers, and his relationship with God, his son said.
“Everything he looked at, he asked, 'How can we tell the story of God's love through this?” Brooks Shaw said.
Jackson Mayor Scott Conger said Shaw “had a true passion for his fellow man, his community, and historic preservation.”
“You walk in the door, you feel welcome at the Old County Store,” Conger said. “That's just the environment that Clark created.”
A private visitation for family has been set for Friday, Brooks Shaw said. A visitation for members of the public has been scheduled for Saturday at the village, followed by an online service Sunday. The family is encouraging people to donate to their favorite charity in Clark Shaw's name.