At the south end of Fort McMurray on Hwy. 63, you'll find the Oil Sands Discovery Centre, a repository for all things oil sands agglomerated in a fun, interactive setting. While it might appeal to children, there's something slightly unnerving about an animated nutty professor guiding you through the science of what some have called the worst environmental catastrophe of the industrial age. Whatever its impacts, oil sands history and science are indeed fascinating; there are interactive displays, a surfeit of economic and social history, a step-by-step how-to of how the oil gets extracted from the mucky bitumen, and the real winner, a display model truck used to haul the tons and tons of bitumen from open-pit mine to refinery. This is an extraordinary machine: three stories high with tires 3m (12 ft.) in diameter, it appears to be transportation for some giant species not of this earth. It's staggering to think that, out in the field, hundreds of them are shuttling back and forth at any given time; if nothing else, it allows you to clearly visualize the scale at which the oil sands are being mined.
- © Frommer's 2013
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