The use of liming material for ameliorating acid soils in the Peace River farming area has been advocated for several years, but has stalled largely for want of a cheap, locally available supply. The most common source of liming material is crushed limestone, but the nearest deposits to Peace River are located in the mountains of the Grande Cache region, 300 km to the south. However, Grande Cache is connected by rail to the Peace River area by the Alberta Resources Railway (to Grande Prairie) and the Northern Alberta Railway (to Peace River). It has been suggested that the rail backhaul capacity from predominantly southward movement of freight, particularly on the A.R.R., could be utilized to deliver limestone economically to the Peace River area from the distant mountain deposits.
In this connection, the Alberta Research Council was commissioned by Alberta Agriculture to study the limestone resources of the Grande Cache area adjacent to the Alberta Resources Railway and to evaluate their potential for development as agricultural limestone. Field work was carried out during the summer of 1979 and the analytical work was completed in October of that year. This report presents the results of the study and makes recommendations for further work toward site specific evaluations.
The area of study is in the Front Ranges of the Rocky Mountains south and west of Grande Cache, primarily between the Smoky and Athabasca Rivers, but extending southeastward as far as the McLeod River to include the vicinity of Cadomin. It excludes the portion of the Front Ranges that lies within Jasper National Park.
The area is one of rugged terrain, with northwest trending sub-parallel ridges and valleys having up to 1500 m of relief. Most of the area lies within the Willmore Wilderness Park.
Access into the area is difficult. The Alberta Resources Railway runs from Hinton to Grande Cache up the east side of the study area, almost along the boundary between the Foothills and Plains. Provincial highway 40 runs approximately alongside the A.R.R. from Hinton to Grande Cache, and also southeast from Hinton to Cadomin. from these arterial connections the only road access into the study area is a forestry trunk road along Wildhay River to Rock Lake, and a road along the northwest side of Athabasca River to the village of Brule and its vicinity. Truck trails along Berland and Smoky Rivers are no longer in use.
Macdonald, D.E. and Hamilton, W.N. (1979): Limestone resources of the Grande Cache area Alberta; Alberta Research Council, ARC/AGS Open File Report 1982-11, 74 p.