Paul Pettypiece consulting research logo steam train excursion near Red Deer with Hudson 2816, FP9A 1401

Paul Pettypiece


 The Forth

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 Red Deer
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old CPR bridge in downtown Red Deer

corner of Gaetz and Ross downtown

modern CPR locomotives

historic Red Deer CPR station
Mintlaw ACR trestle


Railway Heritage Preservation in Central Alberta

Central Alberta has a rich railway heritage and much of it is being lost. However, much is also being preserved. There are a handful of railway stations, grain elevators, bridges or bridge piers, locomotives and rolling stock, and even a working heritage steam train operation.

A group of people have come together to promote transportation heritage as a theme for two major tourist attractors that combine commerce, entertainment, education, hospitality, nature, heritage and community, called the Forth Junction Project. It also aims to integrate several of the regional railway heritage preservation sites in Central Alberta and to preserve or replicate additional heritage icons of the region.

Stettler train excursion with 6060Alberta Prairie Steam Tours - Stettler
Five to six hour trip on the former Canadian Northern Railway line between Stettler and Big Valley using authentic restored steam locomotives. Variety of trip options and packages mostly during the summer months and also during other seasons. Options include dinner trains, dinner theatres, family specials, train robberies, murder mysteries and meals at Big Valley, the home of a restored Canadian Northern railway station, grain elevator, and a 14-stall roundhouse 'ruins' interpretive centre. Steam locomotives include No. 41, a 1920 Baldwin Consolidation 2-8-0, and No. 6060, a 1944 Canadian National Mountain 4-8-2 'Bullet-nosed Betty' owned by the Rocky Mountain Rail Society. Vintage passenger equipment includes a 1919 Canadian Northern combine and Canadian Pacific 1923 day coaches.

Railway Museums:
6060 at Big ValleyBig Valley Railway Station & Museum
- restored 1912 second class Canadian Northern Railway station, restored grain elevator, an interpretive centre at the site of the original 14-stall roundhouse 'ruins', the new home of the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame and home to the Canadian Heartland Training Railway.
Alberta Central Railway Museum - located in Wetaskiwin County southeast of the city, the site includes several pieces of Canadian Pacific railway rolling stock, equipment, structures, a scaled down replica of the Wetaskiwin 1907 Calgary-Edmonton railway station, a mile of operational track, a diesel locomotive, RDC, speeders and a 1906 Alberta Grain Elevator from Hobbema.
museum at DelburneAnthony Henday Museum Delburne - located in a relocated Grand Trunk Pacific railway station, the site includes an enclosed water tank and caboose.
Camrose Railway Park, Morgan Railway Garden and Tea Room - the restored 1911 Canadian Northern Railway station includes the Canadian Northern Society archives and library.
Alberta 2005 Centennial Railway Museum Beiseker - owned by TransCanada Trails and located on the abandoned Canadian Pacific Langdon subdivision that ran through Torrington and Wimborne, the museum is still under development but has already acquired several pieces of railway equipment mostly of Canadian Pacific vintage.

Museums that include Railway Heritage:
Town & Country Museum Stettler includes the Stettler Canadian Northern railway station,
Innisfail Historical Village includes the Bowden C & E Railway (CPR) station,
    N scale historical model displays under construction
Mirror & District Museum includes a CN caboose and history of the town as the divisional
    point on the former Grand Trunk Pacific Railway,
Three Hills Kneehill Historical Museum includes a station, caboose and box car.

Railway Stations Restored on Original Site:
historic Canadian Pacific station in Red DeerRed Deer: grand Calgary and Edmonton Railway (Canadian Pacific) station was built in 1910 at the head of Ross Street and has been designated as a historic site. It was restored in 1996 and is now used as an office building. The rail yards were removed in 1991.
Big Valley: 1912 second class Canadian Northern station is a museum and terminus for the Alberta Prairie Steam Tours train excursions.
Meeting Creek: restored 1913 third class Canadian Northern Railway station deactivated in 1981 along the now abandoned Canadian National/Central Western Stettler subdivision, restored in 1987 by Canadian Northern Society.
Didsbury: restored 1904 Calgary and Edmonton Railway (Canadian Pacific) station in 1991, turned around to become the Chamber of Commerce and visitor information building.

Railway Stations Relocated and Restored:
Bowden station at Innisfail Historical VillageInnisfail: Historical Village is the home of the relocated 1904 Bowden Calgary and Edmonton Railway station that was deactivated in 1968 and moved to Innisfail in 1973.
Delburne: Grand Trunk Pacific Railway station moved to Anthony Henday Museum.
Three Hills: Kneehill Historical Museum Grand Trunk Pacific Railway station.
Stettler: 1911 second class Canadian Northern Railway station relocated to Town & Country Museum.
Donalda: 1909 fourth class Canadian Northern Railway station relocated from Vardura, Saskatchewan on abandoned Canadian National/Central Western Stettler subdivision.
Rimbey: Canadian Pacific station relocated from Tees, probably built around 1905
Camrose: restored 1911 third class Canadian Northern Railway station, deactivated in 1988, relocated 500 metres and restored in 1993, has a garden railway park, tea room, museum and archives of the Canadian Northern Society.

Railway Stations Replicated:
replica of Penhold stationPenhold: replica of original Calgary and Edmonton Railway (Canadian Pacific) station built for use as a commercial/office centre.
Lacombe: built in 2006-07 for use as a commercial centre, Siding 12 is a replica of the Lacombe 1911 Calgary and Edmonton Railway (CP) station on the opposite side of the tracks as the original station that was torn down in 1978.
built in 1990 by Alberta Prairie Steam Tours, the depot is similar to an early Canadian Northern railway station (the original station was relocated in Stettler).
Wetaskiwin County:
Alberta Central Railway Museum scaled down replica of Wetaskiwin 1907 Calgary and Edmonton (Canadian Pacific) station.

Railway Stations Relocated for non-public use:
There is evidence of a few original stations used for farm, storage or residential use including those from Red Deer (ACR Red Deer County), Benalto (ACR/CPR Red Deer County), Ardley (GTP/CNR Red Deer County), Hobbema (C&E/CPR Ponoka County), Crossfield (C&E/CPR).

Railway Infrastructure Preserved:
CP bridge across Red Deer RiverRed Deer: Calgary and Edmonton Railway (Canadian Pacific) truss bridge built across Red Deer River on north side of downtown in 1908, designated a historical resource and transformed into a pedestrian/bicycle trail and part of the TransCanada Trail system.
Red Deer: park fountain now located in a downtown park close to its original location at the former CPR station park that was replaced by a parking lot in 1950.
Red Deer: one of two Alberta Central Railway piers originally used to support a rail bridge built in 1910 and removed in 1913 over the Calgary and Edmonton Railway (Canadian Pacific) and Waskasoo Creek, still standing along Taylor Drive south of downtown. In August 1910, Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier drove the first spike for the Alberta Central at a point east of the pier.
Delburne: Grand Trunk Pacific (Canadian National) enclosed water tank at the Anthony Henday Museum.
Big Valley: Canadian Northern (Canadian National) 14-stall Roundhouse 'ruins' Interpretive Centre.
ACR Mintlaw steel trestle near Red DeerRed Deer County: abandoned Alberta Central Railway Mintlaw steel trestle bridge across the Red Deer River. The bridge, 2,112 ft. long and 110 ft. high, was completed in the fall of 1912 and abandoned in 1983. At the time it was built, it was the second longest CPR steel trestle in Alberta.
Nordegg (Clearwater County): Nordegg Heritage Centre and Brazeau Colleries Minesite Museum (National Historic Site) tours of coal mine operations that ran from 1911 to 1955 on the Canadian Northern Western Railway (CNR) Brazeau subdivision.

Grain Elevators Preserved:
Most of the grain elevators that marked the prairie landscape have been destroyed. A few are still being used and a few have been abandoned or moved to farms. A small number have been restored and/or preserved.
Big Valley Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator, Meeting Creek, Castor 1910 elevator,
Wetaskiwin County
1906 Hobbema Alberta Grain Elevator Alberta Central Railway Museum.

Consolidation 41 StettlerRestored Historic Locomotives:
Stettler: Alberta Prairie Steam Tours
CN 6060 4-8-2 MLW 1944 Mountain steam locomotive,
   retired 1959, owned by Rocky Mountain Rail Society;
No. 41 2-8-0 1920 Baldwin Consolidation steam locomotive;
CN 1259 GM 1958 SW1200 diesel locomotive.
Wetaskiwin County: Alberta Central Railway Museum
CP 8015 MLW 1959 RS23
CP 9108 Budd 1956 Rail Diesel Car (Dayliner)
Beiseker: Alberta 2005 Centennial Railway Museum
CN 8704 MLW 1959 S13

Display Cabooses:
CP caboose at PenholdPenhold Canadian Pacific 1947 wood,
Delburne Canadian National 1967 steel,
Mirror Canadian National 1952 wood, ex-1918 box,
Three Hills Canadian National 1972 steel,
Stettler Canadian National 1951 wood, ex-1918 box,
Rimbey Canadian Pacific 1947 wood
Big Valley Canadian National 1942 wood, ex-GT-1910 box

Other Freight Rolling Stock:
Big Valley, Three Hills, Wetaskiwin County, Beiseker

Passenger Equipment:
Stettler steam train passenger carsStettler (Alberta Prairie Steam Tours)
1919 Canadian Northern combine, 1923 CP day coaches
Wetaskiwin County (Alberta Central Railway Museum) 1926 coach-observation-buffet Mount Avalanche,
1921 sleeper Glen Norman, renamed Val David,
express-baggage car used for displays, HO scale yard

Significant Railway Museums and Historic Sites Outside Central Alberta:
Battle River Historical Museum Wainwright
Wainwright Railway Preservation Museum
Alberta Railway Museum north of Edmonton
Calgary and Edmonton Railway Station Museum Edmonton
Fort Edmonton Park Edmonton
Heritage Park Historical Village Calgary
Museum of the Highwood High River

Proposals and Concepts for future rail preservation:
The Alberta Central Heritage Model Rail Project
'Moving People by Rail' Themed Community Proposal
     Historic Rail Background for 'Moving People by Rail' Proposal

The rail history of Central Alberta:
The Calgary and Edmonton Railway (Canadian Pacific)
The Calgary and Edmonton Railway near Red Deer (Canadian Pacific)
The Alberta Central Railway (abandoned Canadian Pacific)
The Canadian Northern Western Railroad (Canadian National Brazeau subdivision)
The Canadian Northern Railway (Canadian National)


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