Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Terry Ellis Van Gorder
1st Pres., Magic Mountain; Built Valencia Golf Courses, Indian Dunes; Pres., Knott's Berry Farm

Terry Ellis Van Gorder passed away on March 2, 2016.

Terry was born August 19, 1933 in Palo Alto, California to Ellis and Catherine (Terry) Van Gorder. He grew up on the Stanford University golf course, where his father was the course superintendent. He learned golf course maintenance and construction under the supervision of his father, inspiring him to design and build golf courses in later years.

He graduated from Yale University in 1955. After completion of the U.S. Navy's Officer Candidate School, he was stationed in Adak, Alaska and Guam during his service in Naval Intelligence.

In 1964 he joined The Newhall Land and Farming Co., rising to Senior Vice President. During this time he built Valencia Golf Course and designed and built Vista Valencia and Vista Chica Golf Courses, as well as Indian Dunes Motor Recreation Park in Valencia, CA.

From 1971 to 1979, Terry served as President and CEO of Magic Mountain Amusement Park, and from 1981 to 1998, Terry served as President and CEO of Knott's Berry Farm. During this time he conceptualized and built Knott's Camp Snoopy, Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, Wild Water Wilderness/Bigfoot Rapids, Indian Trails, Mystery Lodge, and various themed roller coaster attractions. Under his direction, Knott's won the Applause Award, the most prestigious award presented in the theme park industry. Terry was instrumental in the conception, planning and development of Knott's Camp Snoopy within the Mall of America in Minnesota.

Terry and his wife, Elaine, moved to Cottage Grove, Ore., after his retirement in 1998.

Terry was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Ellen Wilton, and his son, Kurt Van Gorder. He is survived by his former wife, Priscilla Lowe and his son, Eric; his daughter, Catherine and son-in-law Ed Faciana; two grandchildren, Floriana and Guitano; and two great grandchildren, Declan and Sienna. He is also survived by his wife, Elaine Roberts, who was blessed with 36 years of a beautiful life with Terry.

In lieu of a formal service or flowers, please consider memorial contributions to the Yale School of Medicine, Alzheimer's Disease Research, c/o Office of Medical Development, PO Box 7611, New Haven, CT 06519-0611. Smith-Lund-Mills Funeral Chapel 541-942-0185.


• Personal-Bio.
• Auction Business
• Early Newhall Land
• Newhall Ranch House
• Farming-Ranching
• Newhall Land Execs
Atholl McBean

Thomas L. Lowe

James F. Dickason

Thomas H. Nielsen

Terry Van Gorder, SVP

Tom Lee x2

Gary Cusumano

Greg McWilliams

Emile Haddad, FivePoint

Marlee Lauffer x3

Steve Schmidt

Tom Dierckman

Jim Harter

Steve Zimmer

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