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  abandoned ACR-CPR right-of-way

Forth Junction Project
Former Alberta Central Railway right of way as
Future Linear Park

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

Current Rail Heritage Preservation

Red Deer Ground Transportation Themes

Mintlaw Linear Park Proposal

Rails to Trails

Rails to Trails
 
Potential Rail-to-Trail Projects in Central Alberta
 
There are at least two potential abandoned railway rights of way in Central Alberta that could one day become trails.
 
One is the former Alberta Central Railway (CPR) alignment between Red Deer and Sylvan Lake and perhaps to Benalto, most of which is owned by Red Deer County with the Town of Sylvan Lake owning the portion within its boundaries. There are some serious challenges to be addressed, including the rehabilitation of the historic Mintlaw trestle and the crossing of the 4-lane Highway 11 expressway.
See Proposed Forth/Tuttle-Mintlaw-Sylvan Lake ACR Linear Park

Powerpoint Slide Show: History of the ACR & Mintlaw Trestle and Future Trails

                                                                                    (presented at FJHS AGM Oct. 2012)

 
The other is a proposed multi-use trail between Rocky Mountain House and Nordegg along the former Canadian National Railways Brazeau subdivision right of way abandoned in 1955 and now owned by Clearwater County. There are several challenges here as well including the rehabilitation of several bridges and the multiple crossings of Highway 11.

A series of linear parks is actively being pursued in communities along the 99-mile former Canadian National Railways Stettler subdivision, now owned by the East Central Alberta Heritage Society between Edberg and Morrin through Meeting Creek, Donalda, Red Willow, Stettler, Big Valley and Rowley. The section between Stettler and Big Valley is currently operating as the Alberta Prairie tourist railway with an extension being added north to Red Willow and eventually to Donalda.

Another possible linear park could run along a portion of the abandoned Canadian Pacific Railway Langdon and Acme subdivisions between Irricana and Torrington. The line was donated to the Trans Canada Trail Foundation and is being managed by Alberta TrailNet. The Alberta 2005 Centennial Railway Museum Society is creating a rail museum on the former right of way at Beiseker. Currently, a trail is proposed between Beiseker and Irricana.
 
In Red Deer, the former Canadian Pacific Railway bridge has already been converted into part of the Waskasoo Park and Trans Canada trail systems. The connection between that bridge and the historic CPR station could become part of a future trail link with the downtown.
 
Rails to trails projects have been very successful across North America including the Kettle Valley Railway trail in British Columbia and the Iron Horse Trail northeast of Edmonton.

Kettle Valley Rail Trail
The 455-km Kettle Valley Rail Trail in the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia is one of the most well-known and scenic trails in Canada. The KVR, built between 1910 and 1916 and operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway, was decommissioned in segments between 1962 and 1978. The original line in Myra Canyon had 19 timber bridges. Two were later earth-filled and two other reconstructed with steel. The most spectacular steel bridge (West Fork Canyon Creek) near Kelowna on a 12 degree curve is 721 feet long and 182 feet high. Another spectacular bridge (Trout Creek) near Summerland, is 241 feet high and is shared with a tourist steam train. Access to the B.C. government-owned trail, originally opened in 1995, is available at several points along the former rail line including Princeton, Summerland, Penticton, Midway and Grand Forks. A major forest fire destroyed 12 of the timber trestles in Myra Canyon in 2003 but the bridges were reconstructed and the trail re-opened in 2008. It is now part of the Trans Canada Trail system and has around 50,000 visitors per year resulting in a significant benefit to the tourism industry of the region.

Iron Horse Trail
In September 1999, many interested citizens from Smoky Lake to Heinsburg northeast of Edmonton joined together to form the Riverland Recreational Trail Society to build and operate a trail from Fort Saskatchewan to the Saskatchewan border. Ten municipalities formed a Part Nine company to own and administer a 260-km multi-use trail consisting of portions of the former Canadian National Railway Coronado and Bonnyville subdivisions. This line runs directly through the small towns of the area including
Weskatenau, Smoky Lake, Vilna, Ashmont, St. Paul, Elk Point and Heinsburg as well as Grand Centre, Bonnyville and Glendon. CN had abandoned the 34-km Elk Point to Heinsburg line in 1980 and abandoned the remainder of the corridor in 1999. The route was once part of the historic Carlton trail in the 1700s. The official opening of the Iron Horse Trail was in 2003 and in the following year became part of the Trans Canada Trail connecting with many local trails. The most spectacular bridge along the trail is the Beaver River Bridge near Grand Centre at a length of 1,485 feet.

Other significant former railway bridges on the Trans Canada Trail include the 3,000-foot-long SkyTrail former CPR deck truss bridge at Outlook, Saskatchewan (Canada's longest pedestrian bridge) and the 617-foot-long and 145-foot-high former CNR wood trestle at Kinsol, British Columbia which last supported a train in 1979.

Benefits of Rails to Trails
- safe pedestrian and bicycle transportation corridor
- health and fitness
- conservation and environmental preservation
- potential for rural tourism
- heritage preservation
- economical recreation
- existing trailbed and gentle grades
- interesting scenery
- experience nature and rural lifestyle
- community identity
- minimal maintenance
- increased quality of life

 

Current Rail Heritage Preservation            Red Deer Ground Transportation Themes 
Forth/Tuttle-Mintlaw-Sylvan Lake Linear Park Proposal            Rails to Trails
Railway Icons of City of Red Deer         Railway Icons of Red Deer County          Railway Icons of Central Alberta
 

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