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Rail tourist attraction idea gets rolling

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,

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.

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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