The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Grand Traverse Herald (Traverse City, MI), July 15, 1859

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A Conspiracy to Blow Up Steamboats - A Diabolical Plan Frustrated

We Learn from Capt. Vigier, of the May Queen, that just as he left Cleveland, Saturday night, a man named Cooley was arrested there, charged with conspiring to blow up the splendid Southern R. R.* steamer City of Buffalo, and that complete evidence of his designs was found. The facts of the case are these:

Some weeks since, while Capt. Ward was at Cleveland on business, this man Cooley came to him, confessing great friendship for him, and denouncing the opposition of the railroads, which led to the establishment of a second line of boats between Cleveland and Buffalo. After talking awhile, he intimated that he knew of means which would remove this opposition and give Capt Ward control of the route. Perceiving that the fellow was a scoundrel and evidently harbored some mischievous design, the Captain took him into a private room, where the villain unfolded his plan. But before completing it, the captain was called away, and made an appointment to meet him the next day.

The appointment was kept, Capt. Ward having taken the precaution to stow a good witness away under a bed in the room. Cooley's plan was then unfolded in detail, and consisted in providing heavy charges of powder in tin canisters, so made as to be fastened to the boat under water, connected together, and touched off with a slow fuse. He proposed to blow up both railroad boats for $300. The captain then gave him $5 with which to get his tin boxes made, and promised to meet him again last week. He then notified the Superintendent of the Southern Road, and the Agent at Cleveland, of the plan.

The second meeting took place last week, when another witness was securely hidden under the bed of the state-room, and when the plan was again fully discussed. Upon Capt. Ward's expressing some doubts as to his ability to accomplish so great and hazardous an undertaking, he stated that he had blown up one vessel in a similar manner, and gave the name, time and place. The Captain then gave him $20 with which he was to procure fifty pounds of powder, and it was arranged that the City of Buffalo, which remains in Cleve land over the Sabbath, should be blown up at her dock last evening. The officers were notified as to what was going on, and, fearing that he might anticipate in his eagerness to accomplish the infernal undertaking, pounced upon him Saturday night. The magazine which he had proposed to use was found, we are told, all charged and ready for use, and there is no doubt but that the wretch intended to commit the diabolical deed, and that he was capable of doing it. The charge of powder, it is said, would have completely torn the boat to pieces.

Cooley had been a diver in the river in Cleveland, in the employ of a man named Nelson, and unquestionably possessed the skill, as well as the hardihood, to carry to a successful termination one of the boldest conspiracies it has been our lot ever to record. [Detroit Tribune.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana R. R., formerly the Michigan Southern R. R. They owned the 2,026 t. sidewheeler CITY OF BUFFALO and the 1,861 t. sidewheeler WESTERN METROPOLIS.
Date of Original:
July 15, 1859
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Grand Traverse Herald (Traverse City, MI), July 15, 1859