Sam's Town

A Tribute to Jerry Burke

Jerry Burke was born in Chicago in 1925. Every Saturday morning, the young Jerry Burke would attend his neighborhood movie house to see his favorite cowboy stars, Buck Jones and Ken Maynard. Jerry never forgot seeing the gun fights in the small western towns.

Jerry enjoyed a long career in show business as a famous tap dancer and teacher. When he moved to Northern California, he began a successful real estate career.

While visiting Cameron Park, he saw a five-acre tract of land for sale. His childhood memory of watching gunfights in a western town came to mind. Jerry purchased the five acre site and in 1979, envisioning his childhood dream, constructed a western themed shopping center.

One evening while watching the news, the newscaster reported the Pioneer Village in San Jose was closing. The vintage train circling Pioneer Village was shown and the newscaster said, "Even the train is for sale."

"I purchased the train, had it hauled to Cameron Park and put it back into service. In order to replicate the 1880's, I staged train robberies and gunfights for the entertainment of the shoppers." Jerry continued, "On weekends my wife and I dressed as Bonnie and Clyde and robbed the train with our little dog dressed as a bandit. We were back in show business!"

When Burke Junction was sold in the year 2000, the new owners retired the train and sadly, it sat gathering dust for ten years. Burke Junction was sold again in 2009. The new owners reconditioned the train and replaced the rail bed with over 600 new wooden railroad ties. When the train was ready to resume operation, an opening day celebration was held in the summer of 2010 and Jerry and Dorothy Burke were the first of the honored guests to be welcomed back aboard the Burke Junction train.

The historic western town with the old-time train was once again a reality.

3300 Coach Lane, Cameron Park, CA 95682

(916) 947-1010

(530) 676-4511
(916) 947-1010