Forth Junction pulling toward
a new station
reprinted from Red Deer
Advocate (Paul Cowley) December 2, 2011
A Central Alberta group of railroad and transit buffs are keeping
the wheels turning on their dream project of creating a
transportation-themed tourist attraction.
For the Forth Junction Heritage Society, that has meant switching
gears and dropping a proposal to locate a major attraction combining
historical interpretation, dining, retail, amusement park and
entertainment in Red Deer's Riverlands area.
Society president Paul Pettypiece said the City of Red Deer was
reluctant to endorse that proposal because a vision for Riverlands
has not been decided on. Rather than wait years for a show of
support that might not come, the society will focus its attention on
a site outside the city.
A rural site has always been a part of the society's vision. An
attraction featuring replicas of regional railway stations for
overnight lodging, a railway park, lookout tower, interpretive
centre, heritage transit vehicle display depot and miniature steam
railway has been proposed for a yet-identified site. A functioning
1/8-scale replica of the Jubilee 3001 The Chinook steam locomotive
that ran between Edmonton and Calgary would also be a crowd pleaser
in the Red Deer County theme park.
"Now, we're thinking we might combine the two into one facility," he
However, there's a limited number of places with good visibility
that would be suitable for a tourism entertainment site, he said.
"So we're looking at our options in terms of a location."
A suitable site would need at least 40 acres within 20 km of the
city and good road connections.
Meanwhile, the 30-strong society has been busy doing the basic
legwork to keep the project moving ahead.
The group recently lined up charitable status, which allows the
group to issue tax-deductible receipts to donors contributing to
efforts to provide education and preservation initiatives connected
with the evolution of trails, trains and transit in Central Alberta.
A not-for-profit corporation will be established next year to
champion parts of the project that don't fit the charitable
designation, such as retail outlets, theme parks and other
Background work has also been done to back up a grant application to
Tourism Alberta to undertake a $40,000 feasibility management
"That really needs to be done before we can do much of anything
else," he said.
Red Deer County and City of Red Deer have been approached to ask for
their support and presentations may be made later to councils in
Pettypiece is encouraged by the support the group has received from
those who have seen their plans. Their vision was on display at the
recent Red Deer Model Train and Hobby Show at Westerner Park and was
well received by show goers.
"Most people we've talked to are very excited about it and would
like to see it proceed."