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Forth Junction Project
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Forth Junction Heritage Society

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

World-class attraction proposed
for Riverlands

reprinted from Red Deer Advocate (Laura Tester) February 4, 2010

Forth Junction idea as theme park based on model train village

World-class attractions focused on railway and other ground transportation are being promoted for sites in downtown Red Deer and Red Deer County by a group that has been working quietly for a year on the vision.

Forth Junction Heritage Society hopes to turn Red Deer into a major tourist destination that would include shops, a children's theme park and a ground transportation museum in the heart of Riverlands. Visitor accommodations modelled after historic rail stations, plus a nature park, would be found on land within the county.

Society president Paul Pettypiece told the Advocate on Wednesday that their "very bold and ambitious" concept will take about 20 years to fully develop, a lot of work and millions of dollars to realize.

This is the first time their vision has been made public.

"It is achievable, sustainable and will create a unique attraction for visitors and tourists from all over North America and perhaps the world," said Pettypiece.

"And as a result, (it will) become a major economic generator for the region."

The concept includes four projects, hailed as never seen before in Canada.

Forth Junction has a major tourist and public activity centre in mind for Riverlands, an area west of Taylor Drive set for development.

It would include a transportation-themed amusement park, shopping centre, ground transportation museum, large gathering area and an atrium.

"The main entranceway would feature a teepee because we want to start off with ancient transportation systems that the aboriginals used," said Pettypiece.

The building would also include a tower restaurant in the shape of a grain elevator.

Pettypiece said this project is still in its early stages.

Formed last spring, the now-registered society includes 10 members who have a strong interest in railway and transportation history.

"We want to get the community engaged in this," said Pettypiece.

The second major project would occur on an unidentified county site close to the railway and Red Deer.

A series of railway stations, using various historic styles found in Central Alberta would be set up for accommodations. A family and nature park, as well as an observation tower would also be on hand. A miniature train for people to ride in could be operational.

Third, Canada's largest historical model railway museum could be set up as part of the Riverlands concept. The museum would give the history on how the city and region looked in 1892, 1911, 1939, 1955, and 1985 as well as offering a look into the future.

Forth Junction's final project centres on building a replica of The Chinook -- a high speed transportation passenger train of the 1930s to 1950s between Calgary and Edmonton. It could go on either the county site or next to the old CPR railway station near 51st Avenue.

"We want both venues to be self-sustaining, which is why we put the retail in the downtown project and the accommodations in the county project," said Pettypiece.

Besides these four projects, Forth Junction is also proposing a corridor linking Red Deer College with a possible future airport terminal near the historic Mintlaw trestle just off of the C&E Trail southwest of Red Deer. The corridor could be used for trams.

A tram or other similar transportation could move people between Rotary Recreation Park and Bower Ponds along Alexander Way (48th Street).

Guided or self-guided tours could link railway and other historic icons within the city and region.

Forth Junction also suggests branding the region based on past and future transportation.

Pettypiece said they've had discussions with city and county officials, as well as Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, and all appear supportive of the concept.

"We haven't actually gone out and asked for money -- and this isn't the time to do it when they are cutting back on projects," he said.

Pettypiece anticipates fundraising and government grants will be needed.

Construction, at the earliest, would begin in three to five years.

"We don't want to take this too far until the community is supportive of it," said Pettypiece. "We don't want it to go the same route of the canals."

A business group had lobbied for water canals, similar to those found in San Antonio, Tex., as a main attraction in Riverlands. The canal concept was deemed exciting and innovative, but ultimately not authentic to the community and one with implementation challenges, according to the 2008 Greater Downtown Action Plan document.

News articles about the Forth Junction Heritage Society (more below):
       News article: World-class destination centre still in the works (Innisfail Province Nov.2013)
       Editorial: Praise today's big dream
(Innisfail Province Jan.2012)
       Editorial: Railway concept captures region's uniqueness (Olds Albertan Jan.2012)
       Feature article: Forth Junction targets county
(Mountain View Gazette Dec.2011)
       News article: Forth Junction pulling toward a new station
(Red Deer Advocate Dec.2011)

News articles related to ACR/CPR Mintlaw bridge mentioning the Forth Junction Heritage Society:
       News article: Plans for Mintlaw Bridge waiting on public feedback
(Mountain View Gazette Feb.2012)
       News article: Opposition comes forward to Mintlaw Bridge preservation
(Mountain View Gazette May 2011)
       News article: RD County antes up for Mintlaw Bridge repairs
(Mountain View Gazette Nov.2010)
       News article: Bridging gap between history and disrepair
(Red Deer Advocate Nov.2010)

News article related to regional model and miniature railways mentioning the Forth Junction Project:

       News article: Trains still roll for some
(Red Deer Advocate Nov.2012)

News articles related to historic downtown Red Deer redevelopment mentioning the Forth Junction Project
(the original vision of the Forth Junction Heritage Society included an attraction in the new downtown
Riverlands but this vision was modified to have one destination close to the city and active rail line):

       News article: Railyards: Open house on a 20-year plan for downtown
(Red Deer Advocate June 2011)
       News article: Riverlands: Strong turnout for open house
(Red Deer Advocate March 2011)
       Commentary: Red Deer could use more bold visionary landmark designers
(Red Deer Express Sep.2010)

Michael Dawe articles related to regional railway heritage mentioning the Forth Junction Heritage Society:
       Region celebrating century of railroad heritage (Red Deer Express March 2010)
       Mintlaw Bridge essential to region's railroad heritage (Red Deer Express March 2010)


 News articles about the Forth Junction Heritage Society:
World-class destination centre still in the works 11/13       Praise today's big dream 01/12       Forth Junction targets county 12/11 
Forth Junction pulling toward a new station
12/11        A volunteer on the right track 12/10        Tourism board supports rail project 10/10
Forth Junction rail project seeking charitable status
10/10        Rail tourist attraction idea gets rolling 07/10        Railway heritage 06/10
New idea for Riverlands worth an Olympic cheer 02/10       Happy to hear more talk on large-scale attractions 02/10
One-time opportunity 02/10       Tourism proposal facing obstacles 02/10       World-class attraction proposed for Riverlands 02/10

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