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  watching Freemo display at Big Valley

Forth Junction Project
Alberta Central
Historical Model Rail Project


Forth Junction Project Vision Sharing Historical Perspective Ground Transportation
Heritage Preservation
Forth Junction
Heritage Society

The Alberta Central Heritage Model Rail Project:
A miniature replication of the history of rail transportation in Central Alberta, particularly within the City of Red Deer and the communities of Red Deer County.

The potential for an attractor unique in Canada
Red Deer 1892The locations of several towns within the primary north-south corridor, two secondary north-south corridors and the east-west corridor that exist today are primarily the result of the building of four railways through Central Alberta. Of particular significance is the location and evolution of the city of Red Deer as the distribution and transportation centre of the region due to it becoming the divisional point of the area's most dominant railway, Canadian Pacific. Canadian National also had a significant impact on the region.
ACR pier along Taylor DriveWith much of the infrastructure destroyed, abandoned or relocated, the historical significance of that process is being forgotten or is being remembered only as displays in a handful of isolated community museums or unconnected, unknown and misunderstood icons.
The Central Alberta Historical Model Rail Project is an effort to put the whole process in perspective on a regional level so that residents, historians, tourists and rail fans can see how the railway had a profound effect on the development of the city of Red Deer, Red Deer County and Central Alberta as we know it today.

This, in turn, is very much representative of the development of many regions in Western Canada.
exterior display and entrance to model rail historic layoutsAn interactive multi-scale historical model rail museum is being proposed as an alternative to a full-scale railway museum that would normally have actual size displays. It also has the advantage of recreating historic landmarks that no longer exist and how they looked during different periods of time.


walk-through series of model rail layoutsA miniature railway heritage centre using scale models requires significantly less space than a full-size museum, fewer skilled volunteers and minimal maintenance costs.

A multi-scale, multi-era, 3,500 sq. ft. (or more) historical model rail museum is rare on this continent and is practically non-existent in Canada.

Even as a stand-alone project and done to a high standard, an opportunity exists to create a facility that would attract tourists and families from all over North America, and perhaps the world, acting as a showcase for how the Red Deer area evolved.


Done in conjunction with other railway and transportation-themed attractors, including the Forth Junction Transpo Park, the Western Canada Transpo Gathering Centre, the replication of the historic Jubilee 3001 steam locomotive in 1/8 scale, the Forth-Mintlaw-Sylvan Lake linear recreation corridor connection to the Trans Canada Trail system and the Red Deer River, the redevelopment of historic downtown Red Deer and the Riverlands area and tours of regional historic sites, Red Deer and area could become known as a year-round world-class place to visit resulting in tourism becoming one the region's primary economic generators.

Historical Interactive Displays
Much significant rail infrastructure was built, modified, abandoned or destroyed over the past more than an century that could be preserved in model form. Various types of rail equipment that was used over the years can be visually highlighted in operational displays that would otherwise be impossible, or at least impractical, to duplicate in any other form.
model rail interpretive display
A series of high-quality miniature interpretive, interactive and operating displays with moving trains and historically accurate models showing the more significant eras of rail development in the city and the region will have educational and entertainment value to both residents and visitors.
small public display layout

A representative layout could be done in as little as 1,500 sq. ft. but a minimum of 3,500 sq. ft. would be necessary to make it a world-class and viable tourist attraction as well as to represent more than one time period.


To achieve maximum visitor attraction, the facility should be located either in downtown Red Deer or in another area close to both the city and the existing Canadian Pacific north-south main line. Proximity to other significant sites of historic value and easy access by road and trail would be desirable.
Innisfail in the 1890s
The most significant time periods in the development of communities, changes in transportation trends and rail technologies affecting Red Deer and nearby municipalities of the region occurred during the following years and should be represented in the displays one way or another:
1890-92; 1910-14; 1936-41; 1948-55;
1966-68; 1983-89; 2010-14


Alberta Central Railway Mintlaw steel trestle aerialTo make the project truly interesting and attract the greatest range of visitors, some time periods would be built in different scales* and alternated annually.


Some of the miniature replications could be quite massive and very impressive if recreated exactly to scale.


A scale model of the ACR/CPR Mintlaw steel trestle over the Red Deer River would be 13 feet long in N scale* and 22 feet long in HO scale*.
Red Deer railyards overlaid on current downtown

The former downtown Red Deer CPR railyards, if recreated exactly to scale, would require a length of 24 feet in N scale, not including the south lead track and the bridge across the Red Deer River to the north. In HO scale, the yard would need a length of about 42 feet!
Although some selective compression may be necessary to model any extensive rail facility, the goal is to replicate the area as accurately as possible in miniature, including other historic buildings in the downtown area.
Complementing the operating model railroad displays would be dioramas, local railroad memorabilia, historic photographs, videos and other interpretive displays either within the model museum itself or in another part of the overall complex.
A necessary component of the project is a workshop area for working on future displays and for hands-on seminars about various aspects of model building and heritage preservation that would be particularly educational for youth. Other amenities could include a snack bar, bookstore, souvenir booth and model supply store.

Other world-class model rail museums

* Miniature railway models come in a variety of sizes. The most popular is HO scale (1:87 - max. car height 3.5"). Many of the operating displays would be in this scale, in part due to the variety of models available. The second most popular size is N scale (1:160 - max. car height 2"). It has the advantage of much more railroad in much less space, thereby making it possible to replicate large structures or areas in a reasonable amount of space. These two scales, if built in modules such as the Freemo or NTrak standard, permit the possibility of expansion easily during meets or conventions with other modules from all over Alberta. Even smaller is Z scale (1:220 - max. car height 1.5"). On the other end of the size scale, the larger O Scale (1:48 - max. car height 6.5") is best for really detailed modelling but requires considerable space to run trains. G scale or Garden scale (1:22.5) can also be represented, best used in an atrium or garden setting. There are also larger scales, best suited for outdoor railways and capable of carrying passengers including 1-1/2" Live Steam (1:8) which would be ideal for a theme park and extemely detailed replications of actual locomotives such as the 3001.

1892 - The beginning of a regional centre    1913 - The headiness of rapid expansion    1939 - The glory days of passenger service
1955 - A year of transition and change     1986 - Modernization and rail relocation     Future - High speed rail and regional transit
Innisfail Historical Model Rail Exhibit         Historic Model Railway Concept         World-Class Model Rail Museums

Forth Junction Transpo Park      Western Canada Transpo Centre      Historical Miniature Rail Museum      Railway Station Heritage Resort
Trails, Rails, Transit Heritage Centre      An Opportunity for Boldness       A Time to Think Big and Bold

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