International relations, strained by the advent of global conflict, has caused the intelligence agencies of major powers to go to extremes and draw strange conclusions. Although the United States professed Neutrality, Germany feared that Japan may send troops across the Pacific Ocean and through Canada. After Japan entered the war in 1914 on behalf of its British ally, Germany worries only grew and their intelligenceagency felt they needed at act.
Vernon Horn, 59, a German national in Guatemala working as a coffee plantation manager when he was called back to Germany. In December 1914, he was enlisted by Fritz von Papen, military attaché of the German Embassy in Washington D.C to engage in acts of espionage in the United States and Canada. Von Papen was seeking saboteurs to disrupt Canadian railways and thought that Horn, who was eager to serve the fatherland, was an ideal candidate.
The St Croix-Foxboro Bridge
Van Papen’s plan was to destroy the St Croix-Vanceboro railway bridge crossing the St Croix River from St Croix, New Brunswick, Canada to Vanceboro, Maine. By late January, Horn was in Boston with a suitcase full of dynamite. He rode the train with his dangerous parcel under his seat from Boston to the hamlet of Vanceboro, Maine’s Central’s eastern terminus at the border with Canada. Horn checked into the Exchange Hotel. Later, Horn made his way to the bridge where he planted a bomb. At 1:10 a.m. on Tuesday, February 2, 1915 a bomb exploded, blowing out windows across both towns of Vanceboro and St. Croix. Some iron beams on the bridge were twisted or bent but the damage was relatively minor. Horn was frostbitten and needed assistance. Horn’s condition led to questioning and arrest at the Exchange Hotel. The US Sheriff crossed the border and in order to detain him, charged him with criminal damage for breaking windows in Vanceboro. Horn was moved to jail in Machias where he was interrogated by the Bureau of Investigation and signed a confession.
On March 2, 1915, since the explosion took place on the Canada-side of the the St Croix-Vanceboro railway bridge, the federal grand jury in Boston, Massachusetts at the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts indicted Horn the most serious crime they could in the United States – transporting explosives on a common carrier that also transported passengers for hire. He has still to be charged by Canada.