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USA : The Merci Train boxcar in Massachusetts (MA)
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 :
Using various search words and combinations of words is necessary :
- 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.
"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
From www.freeprintoutmaps.com ➚
The Massachusetts boxcar
The boxcar was delivered to the capitol of each state; - in Massachusetts it was Boston.
The Massachusetts boxcar is presumed to have been destroyed.
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Massachusetts "Merci Train" committee
______ member committee appointed by Governor Paul A. Dever.
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 "New England Section" of the "Merci Train".
- Guarded by railroad-police till departure.
Monday, February 07, 1949.
- Left as part of the New England section of the "Merci Train" left Erie Railroad's Weehawken (NJ) yards "on Monday night" with the other 5 boxcars. ( Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont ).
- 6 New Haven flatcars loaded each with a French boxcar. Newly-painted in steel-grey with emblems.
- 11:00 PM - Arrived at Maybrook, NY - switching from "Erie Railroad" to "New Haven Railroad".
- Due to overhead electric wires and tunnels the "Merci Train" could not take the New Haven Railroad "main line", but had to take an alternate route across the center of the New England States.
Wednesday, February 09, 1949.
- MA boxcar arrived in Boston.
- Parade in Boston
- Luncheon in the afternoon given by Governor Dever
- Roderick MacLean, Great Barrington - Berkshire County 40&8
- Berkshire County 40&8 planning to welcome the MA Merci Train boxcar in Pittsfield.
- Chef de gare Dr. William J. O'Hearn
- Clarence F. Hall - Pittsfield
- Jakob Skole - Pittsfield
- Jack B. Rabiner - Pittsfield
- Donald C. Palmer - Pittsfield
- Garnett H. Porter - Pittsfield
- Peter Brahier - Sheffield
- Roger Wilson - Stockbrigde
- Ernest F. Gilbert - Great Barrington
- Roderick MacLean - Great Barrington
- Raymond D. Adams - Great Barrington
- Fred Bryden - Great Barrington
- Merci boxcar perhaps not to visit Berkshire County.
- Merci Train Route :
- Providence, RI
- Boston, MA
- Montpelier, VT
- Concord, NH
- Portland, ME
- Augusta, ME
- MA conducted an essay contest in high schools on French-American friendship giving non-historic gifts as prizes to the winners
- Exhibition at "Historical Museum" around March 25.
- Friendship Day - proclaimed by Mayor Joseph H. Downey around May 09, 1949.
- Book gift from the rector of the University of Caen, France, to Smith College - Northampton, MA, ended up in the Arizona boxcar.
List of known gifts in the Massachusetts boxcar
Known gifts :
- Sèvres vase - from French President Auriol.
- In Hamilton, MA, at the "Patton Park" stands two pillars from the "La voie de la Liberté" ( Liberty Road - French route celebrating the advancing through France of General George Pattons 3 US Army in 1944 / 1945 ) apparently given by the French cities Avranches and LeHavre. The Patton family lived in Hamilton. Unknown whether they came part of the MA boxcar or as a separate gift.