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
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
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
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
This, in turn, is very much representative of the development of
many regions in Western Canada.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
The most significant
time periods in the development of communities, changes in
transportation trends and rail technologies affecting Red Deer and
of the region occurred during the following years and should be
represented in the displays one way or another:
1966-68; 1983-89; 2010-14
To 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
former downtown Red Deer CPR railyards, if recreated exactly to
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
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.
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.