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Forth Junction Heritage Society

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

World-class destination centre
still in the works
Penhold's Paul Pettypiece says dream of the Forth Junction Project
is an issue of timing

Reprinted from Innisfail Province (Sylvia Cole)
online edition November 19, 2013; printed edition December 3, 2013

Forth Junction founder Paul Pettypiece - Bachusky photo Mountain View Gazette

Paul Pettypiece said there hasn't been recent movement with the Forth Junction Project due to the recent municipal election and the current economic climate.

Photo by Johnnie Bachusky, Innisfail Province


Although on a bit of a hiatus, the Forth Junction Project is still a go, says Penhold's Paul Pettypiece.

"The dream isn't lost, it's just a matter of timing," said Pettypiece, president of the Forth Junction Heritage Society during an interview last week.

The society has big plans to create a world-class destination in Central Alberta that would preserve and share the transportation heritage of the region.

The planned Transpo Centre is a multi-phase project to be completed over 25 years and would include an indoor amusement and family activity park, a retro bus depot and transit museum, a conference hall, observation tower and restaurant as well as a railway station heritage resort.

Originally plans were to create the heritage resort in the county, and the remaining amusements in the Riverlands district of Red Deer.  But since learning the city had other plans for that area, the society has combined the two ideas and are looking to build it somewhere in the county.

At least 12 Red Deer County locations where the 40-acre project could be completed have been identified. The hope is to have it within 20 kilometres of the city, which is the main transportation hub, an integral part of the area's history.

"When Red Deer was chosen as the distribution point it was no bigger than Innisfail," said Pettypiece, explaining how that key decision played a role in making Red Deer a city.

"Innisfail could have been the main distribution centre."

Pettypiece said there hasn't been much movement on finding land or collecting dollars because of a couple of roadblocks.

"With the (municipal) election we also wanted things to settle a bit first and the economic situation hasn't been right," he said of getting both political and financial support. He also said his work has become busier, meaning the time to spend on this project has been set aside.

The group, currently made up of 15 active members, is "satisfied to put it on hold and pursue it at another time."

Pettypiece hopes a year from now they can pursue their dream more strongly. He said it's important to preserve and share the history of transportation in the region because of the impact it had on shaping the communities.

"Red Deer was the hub of railway activity and transit," said Pettypiece.

"Other communities that were thriving were doing so because of the railway," he said using Innisfail and Olds as examples.

"You can go one step further and say the railroads helped with the development of Western Canada generally," he said.

In the meantime, the society still meets regularly and will hold its annual general meeting tomorrow night where Pettypiece will present the PowerPoint, "Railways as Parents of a City."

The group has been busy assisting other societies with projects such as the Central Alberta Historical Society's Arches project that was unveiled in October and features interpretive plaques that celebrate the influence of transportation and railway on the development of the city.

"In all likelihood it wouldn't have become a city," he said.

In addition, the group is also friends with the Central Alberta Regional Trail Society as advocates for using abandoned rail lines as trails.

"We've been continuing with collecting historical information and have worked on creating an online Facebook presence."

To learn more about the group and its activities, its Facebook pages include the Forth Junction Project, the Forth Junction Heritage Society and Friends of the Mintlaw Trestle.

Central Alberta Regional Trails Society 

News articles about the Forth Junction Heritage Society (more below):

       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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