Tag Archives: cpr train

What Happened on the CPR Railway Bridge?



In August of 1964, three young girls were caught on the Mississippi River narrow railway bridge. Watching in horror, a CPR Ottawa-bound Canadian passenger train was coming towards them quickly. Two sisters were forced to jump from the 25 foot high train-only bridge and they landed in the shallow waters of the rock-bottomed Mississippi River.


Deborah Dixon, age 10, received a broken leg when she fell into the summer level one-foot water. Her sister Karen, age 7, had only minor injuries as she landed in deeper water. Their friend Maureen Robertson had plenty of time to escape the oncoming train, but the other two girls panicked and jumped. Had it been Spring with the turbulent waters, their fate might have been different.

The train was only delayed 15 minutes as the passengers and crew ran to the river’s edge and rescued the two girls out of the water. As I took pictures of the bridge today I can’t even imagine the panic these young girls felt.


C.P.R. (Canadian Pacific Railway) Passenger Train crossing Mississippi River Bridge at Carleton Place, Ontario, 1900
National Archives


Monday-August 16, 2016

Today I heard from Debbie  Dixon who was one of the little girls in the story. I found the story in the newspaper archives but as with all media.. there were incorrect facts.. Now you will know the rest of the story… Thank you Debbie!!

Hello Linda,
My cousin found your article about the train accident. I am/was Debbie Dixon. My married name is Barrie and I go by Deborah Elaine Barrie now. I am a writer and an activist who helped bring in a ban or phase-out on cca treated wood in over thirty countries.
I was very surprised to learn of your article. While some of the details are certainly correct, I did not break my leg but I had several injuries some of which I have never recovered from. I had a concussion and a fractured skull and two chips knocked from my spine. I also had two broken bones in my right arm and a brachial plexus injury in my right arm/shoulder which cost me most of the use of the upperarm and all of the use of my forearm and hand. It never grew after that date and my cousin who found this article named it Tiny to which my family still fondly refers to it. The injury to the arm went on to save my life but that is another story being written about in my biography.
Photo Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
My sister, Karen, did only receive a scratch and a bruise. Karen had her shoe caught in the tracks that day. I was ahead of her and Maureen was ahead of me. When the train came I went back and freed Karen’s foot and pushed her off the bridge. I froze and did not jump. Maureen happily did escape uninjured. I still remember her screams as she ran and jumped to safety.
I am married to a retired CP railroad engineer but he was not one when we married. What do you think Freud would say about that? The story of the train accident has been written many times including a piece in the National Enquirer but I have never seen it written with the facts straight yet. The Enquirer wrote it with my arm going to recover. I am not sure where your research came from but likely from one or more of the incorrect articles so I thought you might like to hear from me.
Thanks for taking an interest in our story. Of course there is much more to the story including why we were there. Karen and I had never been there before.
Take care and please keep safe.