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USA : The Merci Train :
"Magellan" arrives in New York - New Jersey

Updated : April 25, 2015

"The Merci Train" - "The Gratitude Train" - "Train de la Reconnaissance Francaise"

Table of Contents :

Small stories :

David C. White - Farmer in Kansas Ruth Nathanson - High school senior from New York City


Individual states :
Bold = new content. (G) = can be seen on Google Streetview.

Arizona - Alabama - Arkansas (G) - California (G) - Colorado - Connecticut - Delaware (G) - Florida (G) - Georgia - Hawaii - Illinois - Indiana - Iowa (G) - Kansas - Kentucky - Louisiana (G) - Maine - Maryland - Massachusetts - Michigan - Minnesota - Mississippi - Missouri - Montana - Nebraska - Nevada - New Jersey - New Hampshire (G) - New Mexico - New York - North Carolina - North Dakota - Ohio - Oklahoma - Oregon (G) - Pennsylvania (G) - Rhode Island - South Carolina (G) - South Dakota (G) - Tennessee (G) - Texas - Utah (G) - Vermont - Virginia - Washington (G) - Washington DC - West Virginia (G) - Wisconsin - Wyoming (G).



The "De Grasse" was owned by the "C.G.T" the "Compagnie Générale Transatlantique", in the USA known as the "French Line"

de grasse Compagnie Générale Transatlantique French Line

More about the "De Grasse :
http://www.norwayheritage.com/p_shiplist.asp?co=cgtfl
The French freighter "Magellan" ( homeport: La Rochelle ) arrived on February 2, 1949 to the east coast of the USA about 3 days ahead of schedule having left Le Havre on January 14, 1949.

The early arrival was very unfortunate because all the French dignitaries, who were supposed to attend the arrival of "Magellan" with the "Merci Train" boxcars, were on board another ship; the passenger liner "De Grasse" operated by the "Compagnie Générale Transatlantique"; in the USA known as the "French Line".

By the time "Magellan" had arrived, the "De Grasse" was still out in the Atlantic.

You can read the interesting story of the voyage as told by the navigator on board "Magellan" on this French website [ http://uim.marine.free.fr/hisnav/archives/navires_uim/op-com/magellan-train.htm ].

The captain (Commandant) of "Magellan" on that trip was ; Captain Georges Icart.


Once arrived "Magellan" received a spectacular welcome. On the sides of "Magellan" was written in huge capital letters "MERCI AMERICA" - "Thank you America".

"Magellan" sailed from the Atlantic into the "Lower Bay" up to the "Upper Bay" picking up a welcome committee at the "quarantine point" which presumably was near "Swinbourne Island" or "Hoffmann Island" in the "Lower Bay". These islands were normally used for quarantine purposes at that time.

The welcome committee included :
  • Mr. Grover A. Whalen - "official greeter" of New York city
  • Monsieur Ludovic Chancel - the French consul general in New York
  • Mr. Drew Pearson

"Magellan" sailed past the Statue of Liberty on Bedloe's Island - now Liberty Island, by that time being escorted by 3 Coast Guard cutters ( the "Sauk", the "Navesink" and the "Hahoing" ), police boats, numerous smaller crafts, water-sprouting fire-boats, and a Police helicopter, up the Hudson River before it docked at the "Erie Railroad" pier north H at Weehawken, New Jersey.

6 tug-boats from the "Moran Towing Fleet" made sure that "Magellan" didn't drift of course.

Over "Magellan" US Airforce F-80's ("Shooting Star") and F-82's were flying in formation. All ships and crafts were sounding their horns and blowing their whistles.


More about what happened on Tuesday, February 2, 1949 on the New York page.


Photos of "Magellan".

You can access the full-size photos on the password-protected page :

Enter your password:



Magellan

No general photos of "Magellan".


Magellan in "Le Havre" and loading in "Le Havre"

There appears to be only one known photo of "Magellan"
and the loading of the boxcars in "La Havre" around Janaury 12, 1949 :
Appeared in various newspapers - AP Wirephoto
merci gratitude train france le havre magellan
This picture presumably shows "Magellan" leaving "Le Havre" on Janury 14, 1949.
( It could however also be from the arrival in New York. )
From a posting March-2009 on www.kustvaartforum.com.
merci gratitude train france le havre magellan
This picture shows "Magellan" leaving "Le Havre" on Janury 14, 1949.
From uim.marine.free.fr
merci gratitude train france le havre magellan



Magellan arriving in New York / New Jersey

One of the few color photos.
Shows "Magellan" as it enters New York harbour.
Life Magazine - February 28, 1949

Unknown whether the French flag
has been "super-imposed"
or in fact the photo was taken
from another French ship.
merci gratitude train france le havre magellan
"Magellan" passing the "Statue of Liberty".
All 3 photos from uim.marine.free.fr
merci gratitude train france le havre magellan

merci gratitude train france le havre magellan

merci gratitude train france le havre magellan
Aerial photo.
Appeared in various newspapers.
Several copies of this photo have
been sold on i.e. ebay.com.
merci gratitude train france le havre magellan merci gratitude train france le havre magellan
Photos from various newspapers : merci gratitude train france le havre magellan merci gratitude train france le havre magellan

merci gratitude train france le havre magellan merci gratitude train france le havre magellan



Magellan unloading in Weehawken, New Jersey

This photo can be found on many websites.
Life Magazine - February 28, 1949
merci gratitude train france le havre magellan
Link to original picture.
From Corbis Images
merci gratitude train france le havre magellan
Link to original picture.
From www.themetrains.com
merci gratitude train france le havre magellan
Link to original picture.
From http://history.nd.gov/fgt/history5.html
merci gratitude train france le havre magellan
Photos from various newspapers : merci gratitude train france le havre magellan merci gratitude train france le havre magellan

merci gratitude train france le havre magellan merci gratitude train france le havre magellan








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