Tag Archives: runaway horses

The Continuing Curse of William Street in Carleton Place



A farmer left his team standing on William Street in Carleton Place while he delivered potatoes one Friday in 1898. The horses took fright at the passing train, and after running some distance. they struck a telegraph pole. In the tumble that followed, the horses were separated and one of them ran across the railway bridge on the ties after the train. The poor horse did not make it across the bridge and took a tumble into the dark waters of the Mississippi River.


No word if the hose survived, but by the looks of the diving horses in 1901, there is a strong  chance it might have survived.

diving horse

The diving horse at the Hanlan’s Point Amusement Park, Toronto, Canada, around 1907


A diving horse in Toronto–

William “Doc” Carver “invented” horse diving exhibitions. Allegedly, in 1881 Carver was crossing a bridge over Platte River (Nebraska) which partially collapsed. His horse fell/dived into the waters below, inspiring Carver to develop the diving horse act. Carver trained various animals and went on tour. His partner, Al Floyd Carver, constructed the ramp and tower and his rider Lorena Carver was the first rider. Sonora Webster joined the show in 1924. She later married Al Floyd Carver. The show became a permanent fixture at Atlantic City’s popular venue Steel Pier. There, Sonora, Al and Lorena continued the show following his death.

In 1931, Sonora and her horse Red Lips lost their balance on the platform. Sonora survived the fall, but was blinded (caused by detached retinas in both eyes). She continued horse-diving while blind. A film based on her life (as recounted in her memoir A Girl and Five Brave Horses), Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, was released in 1991. In Lake George, New York, the Magic Forest theme park hosts only remaining diving horse feature in New York state. It has been in operation since 1977, originally featuring a horse named Rex, later replaced by a gelding named Lightening. The manager states, “There is no rider, no prods, no electrical jolts, and no trap doors.” The horse jumps twice daily during a two-month season and has the rest of the year off.

Where is This in Carleton Place? Chaos on William Street?

What Happened on the CPR Railway Bridge?

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Ttilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place