Rail tourist attraction idea
reprinted from Red Deer
Advocate (Laura Tester) July 31, 2010
A proposed major
tourist attraction focused on the railways and ground transportation
is gathering some steam in Red Deer, says the president of the Forth
Junction Heritage Society.
Paul Pettypiece said the society is getting interest about its
proposed project that is expected to take 20 years to develop.
Members have been circulating their message around through word of
mouth since earlier this year.
This fall, Forth Junction will increase public awareness by meeting
with various groups including Tourism Red Deer. The society will
also have a booth at a model railroad show at Westerner Park. A
major membership drive will be launched.
Pettypiece said the society is also seeking charitable status so it
can begin fundraising.
Also in the works is a feasibility study, which Pettypiece said will
be needed before any fundraising takes place.
"We want to make sure we're ready when the City (of Red Deer) and
(Red Deer County) is ready," said Pettypiece. "But the timing isn't
ready with so many factors, including the economy. But I am
confident it will happen."
Forth Junction proponents would like to see several projects centred
on the history of the railway history.
One attraction, dubbed The Crossing, would include shops, a
children's theme park and ground transportation museum in the heart
of Riverlands, west of Taylor Drive, and the Railyards district,
west of Gaetz Avenue and north of Ross Street. It would also feature
Canada's largest historical model railway museum, which would look
at the history of how the city and region looked from the late 1890s
to the mid 1980s, as well as a glimpse into the future.
Visitor accommodations modelled after historic rail stations, plus a
family and nature park, would be found at The Junction on a piece of
yet-to-be-identified land in Red Deer County.
Forth Junction also hopes to build a replica of The Chinook -- a
passenger train that ran from the 1930s to the 1950s between Calgary
and Edmonton. It may go on the county parcel or next to the old
Canadian Pacific Railway station near 51st Avenue.
The society has a website, forthjunction.com.
Pettypiece hopes to have a more concrete plan, as well as actual
locations, in the next couple of years. "We want to get the support
of the city and the county," Pettypiece said. "Both have to have
planning in place before any land can be procured."
The society has about 15 members, including historian Michael Dawe,
Steve Parkin, transportation enthusiast and the owner of a historic
full-size transit bus, and railway buff Darcy Colenutt.