Thursday, April 16, 2009

Merci, beaucoups!

Port Townsend, today. I am sure there is an entire generation of rail fans who have never heard of the “Friendship Train” and subsequent reply to it called the “Merci Train” both in response to helping rebuild Europe, particularly France, following World War II.

I used to attend the Washington State Fire Training Officers conference over in Yakima every year for several years. That is where I came across the car donated to the State of Washington from the Citizens of France on display in a city park.

40 et 8 Merci Car on display at Helena, Arkansas
Each region of France represented by
it's unique plaque.

It is a fascinating story that begins with the "Friendship Train," created by citizens gathering food and other relief material from across the US to send to the citizens of war ravaged France.

As a token of their appreciation for the outpouring of support shown by the Friendship Train, the French reciprocated with the “Merci Train,” (“Thank you,” in French) composed of one railway car filled with thousands of gifts of gratitude from the French citizenry, donated to each state. Herein is the interesting story of that train, including a state by state listing of displayed cars.

I just received an email from Michael M. Siebol
Curator of Collections
Yakima Valley Museum

assuring me the car is still on display! red number 5 on map.

As the weather begins to improve, and we begin plotting train-viewing adventures, try to work in stopping by a display near you, relishing this priceless piece of Americana.

1 Comments - Click here:

LinesWest said...

Thanks for the history lesson Robert, I wasn't aware of the friendship train. Always great to learn something new. -Leland

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