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MÄRKLIN & RAILROADS : A personal view by Christian Vinaa

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USA : The Merci Train boxcar in Hawaii (HI)

"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).

( Research work in progress )

Main sources :

Most of the information below has been collected from old newspaper articles.

When researching the "Merci Train" it is important to distinguish between :
  • The individual boxcar given to a state.
  • The "Merci Train" as a name for the 49 boxcars sent by France.
  • The "Merci Train" as the name for the transport of the boxcars to each individual state :
    The 3 sections : New England - Southern - Western.
  • The contents - gifts - that were in each boxcar.
  • The fact that the 40 & 8 Society's made / and still make replicas, of varying likeness, of the French boxcar to use as floats in parades.
Using various search words and combinations of words is necessary :
"Merci Train" - "Gratitude Train" - "French / merci / gratitude car / boxcar" - "thank you train" - "french gift"

The official French name for the "Merci Train" was :
"Train de la reconnaissance française" - as written on one side of the boxcars.
However the term "train de la reconnaissance" can also be used for the first train travelling on a newly laid track and even as a military term for a "scouting" trip.

Known missing facts are shown with "_____" or a what The list of articles is free. The actual newspaper clippings are password-protected.

The Hawaii boxcar

The 49th box-car was divided between Washington DC and Hawaii.

Hawaii had been a big contributor to the "Friendship Train".

1948 - January 1949

Same history as the other 48 boxcars.

Repaired, repainted ( "slate grey" ) and decorated with shields and signs in France.
Shipped to the USA on the Magellan.

February 1949

  • Wednesday, February 02, 1949.
    • Loaded off the "Magellan" at the Weehawken docks, Erie Railroad Pier North H, New Jersey.
    • Placed on a US-railroad flatcar and shunted onto "Southern Section" of the "Merci Train".
    • Guarded by railroad-police till departure.

  • Saturday, February 05, 1949.
    • Left the Pennsylvania railroad station in Jersey City at 06:00 AM for Washington DC on "Erie Railroad" as part of "Southern Section" of the "Merci Train".
    • "Merci Train" made stop in Trenton (NJ), New Jersey.
    • "Merci Train" arrived in Philadelphia (PA), Broad Street Station, Track 4, at 11:45 AM.
      The "Pennsylvania" and "West Virginia" boxcars were taken off the "Merci Train".
    • The "Merci Train" arrived at 04:40 PM at Pennsylvania Station / Union Station in Baltimore (MD).
      Maryland boxcar taken off the "Merci Train" at Pennsylvania Station in Baltimore.
    • The "Merci Train" continued towards Washington DC.

  • Sunday, February 06, 1949.
    • Welcome reception in Washington DC at Pennsylvania Railroad sidings at 14th and D Street opposite the "Bureau of Engraving and Printing" on what is now ( 2015 ) "D Street SW".
      10 boxcars were shunted onto the reception tracks.

      Before the ceremony a guard of jet planes circled the "Merci Train".

The 49th box-car is still in Hawaii today.

More to follow

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