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USA : The Merci Train boxcar in Ohio (OH)



"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).



On this page :
The boxcar - The gifts - The restoration - Photos from 1949-1950 - My photos

under work The Ohio boxcar is still being researched.

Main sources :

www.newspapers.comwww.mercitrain.org

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

Ohio :

merci gratitude train Ohio
From www.freeprintoutmaps.com

The Ohio boxcar

The Ohio "Merci Train" committee :
( by Governor Frank J. Lausche )
  • Mayor Rhodes from Columbus
    ( Mayor 1944 - 1952 )
  • Mayor Burke from Cleveland
  • Mayor Di Salle from Toledo
  • Mayor Cheney from Ashtabula
  • Professor Don L. Demorest - head of the French department at Ohio State University.
  • members from the
    • "American legion"
    • Veterans of Foreign Wars
    • Disabled American Veterans
    • Amvets
    • Catholic War Veterans
    • Jewish War Veterans
    • Spanish War Veterans
    • Army-Navy Union
The boxcar was delivered to the capitol of each state; - in Ohio it would have been Columbus.

The Ohio boxcar arrived in Ohio as part of the "Western Section" of the "Merci Train" carried by the "New York Central".

The Ohio boxcar was detached from the "Western Section" of the "Merci Train" in Cleveland.

The "Western Section" continued to Chicago - La-Salle St. Station.

The "Merci Train" would pass Sandusky Thursday afternoon, February 10, 1949.


The main "mystery" regarding the Ohio boxcar is where the boxcar was after the state-tour in 1950.
Was it in front of the State Museum - or in Xenia - and when was it moved o Camp Perry ?

Also
the railroad wheels were removed for several years but then re-appeared.
The railroad wheels were taken off the boxcar during the long tour all over Ohio in 1950, but when the boxcar was placed in Camp Perry it was on railroad tracks and railroad wheels.

The fact that the boxcar could deterioate so quickly from February 1949 to April 1950 shows a little bit about the way the French restored the old boxcars during the fall of 1948.

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.

Monday February 07, 1949

  • Western Section of the "Merci Train", with 27 box-cars, left Erie Railroad's Weehawken (NJ) yards Monday evening.

Tuesday, February 08, 1949

  • Western Section of the "Merci Train" stopped in New York State in Binghampton, Oneonta & Albany

Wednesday, February 09, 1949

  • Western Section of the "Merci Train" stopped in New York State in Albany, Utica, Rome, Oneida, Syracuse, Rochester & Buffalo.

Thursday, February 10, 1949

  • Western Section of the "Merci Train" left Buffalo.
  • Stopped in Erie (PA)
  • Cleveland (OH)
    The Ohio boxcar was detached from the "Western Section" of the "Merci Train".
    Governor Frank J. Lausche accepted the Ohio "Merci Train" boxcar at a greeting ceremony.
    Alse present were Mayor Roy W. Vaughn from Mansfield.

Friday, February 11, 1949

  • 08:30 - 09:30 - Ceremony in Akron
    Drew Pearson - Governor Frank J. Lausche were present.

  • Mansfield
    The "Merci boxcar" would drive through Mansfield on Friday morning around 11:00 AM. from Akron to Columbus.
    Originally the "Merci Train" would possibly stop at Mansfield - where the "Friendship Train" stopped in November 1947.
    Transported on "Erie Railroad". Transfered to "Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway - CCC&StL" (Big Four Railroad / Lines) in Galion.

  • Columbus
    Arrived in Columbus Friday.
    During the night February 11 / 12 moved to the capitol grounds for display.
    Boxcar contained 40 cases of gifts.

Saturday, February 12, 1949

  • Columbus
    Governor Frank J. Lausche
    Frank J. Lausche
    Photo ©
    Ohio History Central
    Formal ceremony :
    • Governor Frank J. Lausche
      • "... I accept this car in the same spirit in which it was given.
        You stand by us and we'll stand by you until decent ambitions
        are realized the world over ..."
    • Military bands
    • High school bands
    • Honor guard - veterans organizations
    • André Picard spoke in French - translated by Dr. Don L. Demorest,
      chairman of the 'roman' language department at Ohio State University

    Most likely the boxcar was opened.
    Mayor James A. Rhodes
    James A. Rhodes
    See photo SC1344-01 below.
    The boxcar was opened by "_____" while
    • Adjutant General Leo M. Kreber
    • Mayor James A. Rhodes - Columbus
    • Professor Don L. Demorest,
      head of the French department at Ohio State University.
    watched.

    Another known photo what from February 1949 is one of Mrs. Demorest, a native of France, holding a doll from Brittany.

    Ohio Adjutant General's Department is in the executive branch of government in the State of Ohio
    concerned with the military forces of the State of Ohio in the United States of America.

    The Adjutant General has responsibility for the Ohio Army National Guard, the Ohio Air National Guard,
    the Ohio Naval Militia and the Ohio Military Reserve.

Sunday, February 13, 1949

  • Columbus
    Gifts on display - viewed by i.e. Mrs. Leutheuser and her 10 year old daughter Gretchen.

1949 - 1950

  • February ??, 1949
    Boxcar taken to Ohio State highway facility - "Fort Hays" - in Columbus.
    Boxcar left un-protected from weather.

  • April 18 - 29, 1950
    Drew Pearson complained by telegraph to Ohio Governor Frank J. Lausche that the Ohio "Merci Train" boxcar stood "... rusting and unappreciated in the rain ..." at the "state highway departments material yard in Columbus" / "state highway garage" - a fact that photos documented.

    Lausche replied :
    "It is my understanding that the car is under roof, protected from the outside weather",
    but never-the-less instructed adjutant general Leo M. Kreber to investigate the matter.

    Leo M. Kreber
    Leo M. Kreber
    Photo ©
    West Point
    Leo M. Kreber said that only one Ohio community had requested the boxcar and that there were no funds for shipping the boxcar, that was difficult to transport, across the state.

    Lausche replied directly to Drew Pearson :
    "The merci car will not be neglected. I have issued instructions to the adjutant general to investigate the matter and to make certain that proper attention and care will be given to the merci car and its contents to the end that it will be preserved and considerately kept on a plane equal to the fine spirit with which it was given to us".

    Leo M. Kreber had an interesting army and National Guard career,
    which can be read on the website of West Point Association of Graduates
    He was appointed the Adjutant General of Ohio on January 01, 1947.
    Born at Akron OH, on 15 August 1896. - Died September 05, 1973 in Chillicothe, OH.


  • Monday May 08, 1950
    Monday afternoon. Boxcar moved from "state highway" facility "Fort Hays" to the Ohio State Museum along side the "Doughboy Monument".

  • May - June, 1950
    Boxcar was painted - walls and floor re-inforced - roof repaired - showcases installed.
    Then the boxcar was sent on a tour all over Ohio.

  • 1950, from June 04 - October 22

    Itenerary of the 1950 tour :

    (#) in newspaper
    • June 05-10, Lancaster (#)
    • June 12-13, Circleville (#)
    • June 14, Marysville (#)
    • June 15, Urbana
    • June 16, Piqua
    • June 17-18, Greenville
    • June 20, Fort Recovery
    • June 21, Celina
    • June 22, Van Wert
    • June 23, Lima
    • June 24-25, Kenton
    • June 27, Findlay
    • June 28-29, Defiance
    • June 30 - July 01, Woodville
    • July 02, Fairport
    • July 04, Upper Arlington
    • July 06, Newark
    • July 07, Coshocton
    • July 08-09, New Philadelphia (#)
    • July 10-11, Canton
    • July 12, Salem (#)
    • July 13, Massillon (#)
    • July 14, Carrollton
    • July 15-17, East Liverpool (#)
    • July 19, Steubenville
    • July 20, Cadiz
    • July 21, Barnesville
    • July 22-23, Cambridge
    • July 25-27, Woodsfield
    • July 29-30, Marietta
    • August 01, McConnelsville (#)
    • August 02-03, Zanesville (#)
    • August 04, Millersburg
    • August 05-06, Wooster
    • August 08, Medina
    • August 09, Massillon
    • August 10-11, Mansfield (#)
    • August 12-13. Fredericktown
    • August 15, Sandusky (#)
    • August 16-18, Bowling Green
    • August 19-20, Crestline
    • August 21, Tiffin
    • August 22, Upper Sandusky
    • August 23, Marion
    • August 24-25, Delaware
    • August 26 - September 01, Columbus ( Fair ) (#)
    • September 04-05, Dayton
    • September 06, Wilmington (#)
    • September 07, Washington Court House (#)
    • September 08-10, Springfield (#)
    • September 11-12, Eaton
    • September 13-16, Cincinnati ( Fair )
    • September 17, Cincinnati
    • September 18, Batavia
    • September 19-21, Lebanon
    • September 21-23, Toledo
    • September 24-25, Hamilton
    • September 27-30, Hillsboro
    • October 02-03, West Union
    • October 04-06, Georgetown
    • October 07-08, Waverly
    • October 09-10, Portsmouth
    • October 11, Ironton
    • October 12, Gallipolis
    • October 13, Pomeroy
    • October 14-15, Athens
    • October 16, Logan (#)
    • October 17, McArthur
    • October 18, Jackson
    • October 20-22, Chillicothe

    Map of the 1950-tour :
    Ohio North - Ohio South

    The Ohio boxcar was sent on a long tour around Ohio - see photo "SC1344_13.tif" below.

    List of gifts in the boxcar during the tour - see below.

    Tour arranged by and under direction of the "Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society" / "Ohio Sesquicentennial Commission" ( Museum on Ohio State University campus ) and the Adjutant General - Department of Highways.

    The boxcar was transported during the morning arriving at the new place well before noon.
    Local supply of electricity was arranged.
    Then the public viewing started at noon and went on till 10 PM in the evening.
    The next morning the boxcar was transported to a new town.

  • June 04 - 11, 1950 - Fairfield-Lancaster
    Boxcar displayed during the Fairfield-Lancaster Sesquicentennial celebration.
    Authorized by Ohio Governor Frank J. Lausche.

  • June 12 - 13, 1950 - Circleville
    Boxcar in Circleville

  • June 14, 1950 - Marysville
    Boxcar in Marysville - arriving from Circleville

  • July 08-09, 1950 - New Philadelphia
    Boxcar in New Philadelphia on display in the courthouse plaza from Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.

  • July 12, 1950 - Salem
    Boxcar in Salem at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and State Street from Monday noon untill 10 in the evening.
    Sponsored by the Salem Historical Society.
    William Needham, commander of the "Charles H. Carey Post" of the "American Legion" was at the boxcar during the display. He said that some visitors were from Iowa.
    Boxcar was supposed to go on to East Liverpool, but was instead sent on to Massillon on Tuesday July 13 in the morning.

  • July 13, 1950 - Massillon
    Boxcar in Massillon. "Massillon museum". 813 people visited the boxcar.

  • July 15-16-17, 1950 - East Liverpool
    Boxcar in East Liverpool from Saturday 15 to Monday 17 at 10 in the evening in the Diamond.
    Boxcar painted in battle grey.
    Viewed by hundreds of persons.
    Sponsored by "American Legion Post 4"

  • August 01, 1950 - McConnelsville
  • Boxcar in McConnelsville in display on the west side of the public square Tuesday August 01, from noon until 10 PM
    Sponsored by the M and M Rotary Club.

  • August 02-03, 1950 - Zanesville
    Boxcar in Zanesville
    Sponsored by "The Zanesville Signal", "The Times Register" and "The Zanesville Chamber of Commerce".
    "Zanesville Publishing Co" in cooperation with the civic affair committee ( Chairman Ralph Engle, Carl Belkofer, Kenneth Bolin, Larry Bollinger, Richard Haubert and William Littick ) of the Chamber of Commerce will be presenting the boxcar in Zanesville.
    On display on the court house esplanade Wednesday and Thursday from noon until 10 PM.
    So far the boxcar has visited 22 Ohio cities and more than 50,000 people have gone through the car.

  • August 10-11, 1950 - Mansfield
    Boxcar in Mansfield on the west side of Central Park.
    Co-sponsored by the "American Legion, McVey Post 16" and the "40 et 8 - Voiture 20"

  • August 15, 1950 - Sandusky
    Boxcar in Sandusky at the foot of Columbus Avenue from noon until 10 PM.
    Sponsored by "Commodore Denig Post 83" of the "American Legion" ( In charge : Reinhardt N. Ausmus ) ( Commander W.J. Blatt )
    Electricty for the boxcar furnished by the "Disabled American War Veterans" ( Commander Robert J. Brown ) through an extension cord from the 3'rd floor of their building near the foot of Columbus Avenue.
    Members of the "40 et 8" wearing French type chapeaus and colored smocks will assist.

  • August 26 - September 01, 1950 - Columbus
    Boxcar at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.

  • September 06, 1950 - Wilmington
    Boxcar in Wilmington on the west side of the Court House from noon intil 10 PM
    Sponsored by "American Legion - Veterans Post 49".
    • A.A. Veith - Post commander
    • J. Henry Nowold - Adjutant
    • Charles Starbuck - member of the publicity committee
    • Ernest Harris - member of the publicity committee

  • September 07, 1950 - Washington Court House
    Boxcar in Washington Court House on Main Street in front of the Court House from noon until 10 PM
    Arrived early Thursday.
    Sponsored by the "Fayette County Historical Society". ( Secretary B.E. Kelley )
    Roy Sampson from the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society was in charge of the boxcar. Lawrence J. Gray is supervising the boxcar in southern Ohio.
    Roy Sampson and Lawrence J. Gray were also custodian of the "Adena Memorial" in Chillicothe which was being restored.
    Many visitors were veterans that had been transported in such "40-8" cars :
    Sheriff Orland (Tubby) Hays Judge Rell G. Allen
    • Sheriff Orland (Tubby) Hays : "I spent seven or eight days couped up in one of those cars and it was anything but pleasant". ( Sheriff of Fayette County 1945 - 1961 ).
    • Judge Rell G. Allen - major, later colonel, in the Rainbow Division : "I nearly froze to death in one of the cars, as did many of Company M men en route to the battlefront. - We passed one village where there was some sheet iron piled upon the platform. Some of the boys got sheets of the iron, placed them in the dorrways with part of the sheets extending out several feet and built fires on them. It helped a lot, too. One town we passed through the French officers started yelliong at us for they thought the car was on fire but we just kept going."
    • Others told of long cold rides cramped in the cars.
    Boxcar came from Wilmington and went on to Springfield.

  • September 08 - 10, 1950 - Springfield
    Boxcar in Springfield

  • October 16, 1950
    Boxcar in Logan in front of the "Morris 5c to 1$ Store" from noon until 10 PM
    Sponsored by the local chapter of the "Junior Chamber of Commerce" . Chairman of the committee : Walter Saving, Jr.
    By now over 115,000 people in over 60 towns have seen the boxcar.

  • October 1950. After the tour the boxcar was placed at the "Camp Perry National Guard Camp", near Port Clinton, OH.
    *** Needs verification ***

  • December 05, 1950
    The radio program "Once Upon a Time in Ohio" featured "The French Gratitude Train".

  • February 1951
    The "40 et 8" Society is ready to built a structure on the OS&SO grounds in Xenia to house the boxcar.
    Ohio state representative Lowell Fess asked for funds for a permanent home for the boxcar at the OS&SO grounds in Xenia.
    ( OS&SO = Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home )
    Idea and plan evolved from August 1950 to February 1951.
    *** Needs verification whether the boxcar ever reached Xenia ***

  • June 1955
    The Ohio Legislature passed a $ 10,000 appropriation to build a shelter on the OS&SO grounds in Xenia to house the boxcar.
    *** Needs verification whether the boxcar ever reached Xenia ***

1950 - today

  • A postcard was issued around 1950 with the Ohio boxcar at its place in Camp Perry National Guard Camp, near Port Clinton, OH.

    ohio merci gratitude train boxcar ohio merci gratitude train boxcar

  • 1950 - 1986
    Boxcar transported to Camp Perry.
    Once at Camp Perry the boxcar never left again.

  • 1986
    "...In accounts written by Anna Bovia about the history of Camp Perry, she noted that the boxcar has been restored twice -- in 1986, repainting and door replacement, and again in 1998 after a tornado, on June 24, 1998, tore off the boxcar's roof and the Friends of Camp Perry volunteer group funded a complete restoration. ..."

  • November 11, 1986.
    Boxcar re-dedicated at 02 PM during a ceremony at Camp Perry Memorial Plaza on a set of tracks.
    During 1986 the boxcar had been restored by Port Clinton High School students :
    40 shields repainted and replaced

  • 1998
    "...In accounts written by Anna Bovia about the history of Camp Perry, she noted that the boxcar has been restored twice -- in 1986, repainting and door replacement, and again in 1998 after a tornado, on June 24, 1998, tore off the boxcar's roof and the Friends of Camp Perry volunteer group funded a complete restoration. ..."

The gifts

Stated that in each of the 49 boxcars were :
  • one Sèvres vase - gift from the French president Auriol
  • tree sprouts
  • one panel of glass
  • 1 manikin dressed by the dressmakers of France


  • Doll from a girl in Brittany
  • A painting from a small shopkeeper in Lorraine
  • Lace from Paris
  • art / theater books
  • paintings
  • models
  • other gifts


The gifts were not to be distributed to the public
The gifts will be distributed fro permanent holding to various museums in the state.

Part of the gifts were by april 1950 sent to the Ohio State Museum. The rest were in storage.


List of the selected gifts on display in the boxcar ( specially constructed and lighted cases ) during the tour around Ohio June-October 1950 :
  • blue urn ( Sèvres vase ) from the president of the French Republic
  • several dolls - one given by 5 year old Danielle Reffay - to be given to an Ohio girl - "some little girl in Ohio"
    group of dolls depicting the various styles of dress in different eras
  • books
  • a large theater program
  • two colorfull posters
  • a frame of medals
  • a copper plate with a typical French emblem
  • a copper pail
  • 2 Renault toy autos
  • a typical Brittany baby's dress for a doll - black velvet - handsomely decorated / trimmed with gold-cloth
  • a decorative metal basket and fruit
    ironmongery - a wrought iron basket complete with several pieces of fruit in iron
  • a skirt - part of a provincial fishmongers costume - fancy skirt from a seacoast province
  • a basque cane for mountain climbing
  • two beaded cloth coin purses
  • several pieces of lace
  • a decorative pool cue - pearl inlay
  • letter of gratitude autographed by several of France's outstanding contemporary writers
  • bleached-calf bound volume of war uniforms
  • Boy Scout fleur-de-lis / emblem - worked in aluminum
  • a brass safety lamp donated by a retired coal miner
  • silver(plated) flute in a case
  • heirloom buckles
  • handmade jewelry
  • mother-of-pearl fan
  • other items


Identified gifts

Gideon Selecting his Army
Photo ©
Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland Museum of Art
16th century renaissance tapestry : "Gideon Selecting his Army".
Gift from Henri Bonnet, French ambassador to the USA
on behalf of the Paris committee of the Gratitude Train.
On display at the museum from August, 1949.


Ottawa County Historical Museum
Bronze vase
Presented by Madame R. Dubreuil-Chambardel, Marcon, France.
Symbol of love of the former Madeleine Couche for her birthplace - Port Clinton.


The Ohio Historical Society has preserved these gifts :
  • Ashtray - H 81447
    Glass ashtray with mirrored bottom marked: "French Gratitude Train 1948"
    Mirrored bottom ... Square ... Clear ... 15 x 15.5 cm.
  • Cap -
  • Doll - H 6107
    Baby doll dressed in a cream gown with red, purple, yellow brocade trim, wearing bonnet with gold trim ...
    Embroidered on underside of dress: "Secours Catholique Du Finistere"
    Original label: "Je suis un be'be' Breton on M'Appelle / Babig Koant / L Be'be' Joli"
    Taffeta cream gown ... Bonnet with gold trim ... Baby ... Life-size ... Girl ... Molded ... White, gold, red ... 23 1/2 inch.
  • Fireguard - H 81459
    Cast iron fireback decorated with a cast classical figure holding a shield and spear
    Classical figure ... Shield ... spear ... Black ... 59 x 59 cm.
  • Kettle - H 72172
    "...Shallow copper kettle ... 17 cm x 36 cm ... medium-sized kettle has a bail handle.
    Engraved on the face is '20 Decembre 1948 / Train De La Reconnaissance / France / Pierre Vichy / Mecier Allier.'
  • Wedding Dress -
  • Bust of General Lafayette - H 81460
    Unglazed redware bust of General Lafayette. Dimensions: 69 x 20 cm.
    gift merci gratitude train Ohio
    Photo © OhioHistory.org

Fotos from 1949 - 1950

All foto's and text in italic : © www.ohiomemory.org

On www.ohiomemory.org ➚ there are ( 2015 ) 11 photos of the Ohio Merci / Gratitude Train boxcar - all from 1949 - 1950.

Text used with all photos :
"...In 1948 the United States sent a large shipment of food, fuel and clothing to Le Havre, France, to be distributed to needy people in the war-torn country.
To reciprocate, the French people collected gifts, including hand-made toys and crafts and local specialities, to send to the United States.
The gifts filled 49 box cars, one for each state and one to be shared by Hawaii and Washington, D.C.
The train, known as the "Gratitude Train" "Train de la Reconnaissance" or "Merci Train" arrived in the United States in 1949.
The boxcars were "40 & 8" type cars that had been used to transport troops during World War I and World War II.
The Ohio train traveled through the state from June 5 through October 22, 1950. ..."


ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"Photograph showing three men
standing outside the French Gratitude
Train while a fourth unlocks the car.
The car is pictured on railroad tracks
and has crests for each of the regions
of France displayed on its exterior."
Original link : SC1344_01.tif

Note the NYC flatcar and the
number "J 57989" on the boxcar.
The three men watching are - from left :
  • Adj. General Leo M. Kreber
  • Mayor James A. Rhodes
  • Professor Don Demorest
The man opening is ? ? ?
The opening of the boxcar most
likely took place in Columbus on
Saturday, February 12, 1949.
ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"Photograph of the exterior of the French
Gratitude Train parked on an unknown set
of railroad tracks in Ohio. On the exterior are
crests from the different regions of France. "
Original link : SC1344_12.tif

Note how the roof has been
damaged & 2 shields and the
"State" plaque are missing.
Photo almost identical to the postcard.
Boxcar still / again has railroad wheels ( ! )
but they had been removed for the
tour around Ohio in 1950.
Photo most likely from 1949-1950
before the 1950-tour.
ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"Photograph showing the interior of the
Ohio car of the French Gratitude Train.
Seen on the right are posters from the
Theatre Nationale. Also seen are display
cases with French items and explanations."
Original link : SC1344_03.tif

Some gifts can be identified.
ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"Photograph showing the French
parked on a street in what is believed
to be Warren, Ohio, 1950."
Original link : SC1344_05.tif

In fact it is on a street across the
Hotel Warner ( former Warner House )
in Chillicothe, OH.
Note that boxcar is without railroad
wheels and undercarriage and is
mounted on a flatbed truck.
ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"Photograph showing three visitors exiting
the French Gratitude Train, in Newark, OH."
Original link : SC1344_06.tif

Transported on a flatbed truck.
The "State" plaque is still on the boxcar.
Several of the railroad markings are still
visible on the chassis.
This photo was used in several
newspaper articles in 1950.
If Newark it is from July 06, 1950.
ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"Photograph of the French Gratitude
Train in Sandusky, OH, 1950."
Original link : SC1344_07.tif

Transported on a flatbed truck.
The "State" plaque is still on the boxcar.
If Sandusky it is from August 15, 1950.
ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"Two visitors to the French Gratitude
Train looking at the display of French
products and historical objects.
On the wall is a poster of the Bretagne
region from the French National Railroad Society."
Original link : SC1344_08.tif

Note the SNCF poster.
Gifts to be identified.
ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"Visitor to the French Gratitude Train
looking at a display case of traditional
French dolls. On the wall are posters for
the Alsace and Savoie regions of France
from the French National Railroad Society."
Original link : SC1344_09.tif

Enjoy the SNCF posters.
Gifts to be identified.
ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"French Gratitude Train display cases
featuring traditional French dolls and toys."
Original link : SC1344_10.tif

Gifts to be identified.
ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"Visitors entering the French Gratitude
Train at an unknown location in Ohio."
Original link : SC1344_11.tif

Transported on a flatbed truck.
The front of the airplane in the
background ( B-29 ? ), and the
many visitors, suggests that
the photo is from a Fair -
The Ohio State Fair in Columbus
( August 26 - September 01 )
or the Fair in Cincinnati
September 13-16
ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"Map showing the route of the Ohio car
of the French Gratitude Train between
June 5 and October 22, 1950."
Original link : SC1344_13.tif

Tour itenerary listed above. Map details :
Ohio North - Ohio South
ohio memory merci gratitude train boxcar
"Photo of 'Train de la reconnaissance francaise',
displayed at Camp Perry;
given to Ohio after WWII in gratitude
by the people of France.
It contained an urn for Port Clinton
put on the train car by a French person
with Port Clinton ancestor.
Urn housed at museum."
Original link : ac1_OCHM_vol_001.tif

This photo presumably from 1970 - 1980ties.
The "urn" presumably is the February 18, 1950
described "bronze vase" - Madeleine Couche.


On January 06, 2011 The Columbus Dispatch ➚ had an article about the Ohio "Merci Train" boxcar with this photo :

merci gratitude train ohio
© Columbus Dispatch

The 2011 article refered to a May 1950 article about the Ohio boxcar finding a new home alongside the "Doughboy Monument" ( Ohio World War Memorial - WW1 ) in front of the "Ohio State Museum".

The "Ohio State Museum" in 1950 was located at E 15th Avenue / North High Street.

The "Doughboy Monument" is NOW at the west ( South High Street ) entrance of the "Ohio Statehouse" at Capitol Square.

The "Doughboy Monument" is in fact 2 statues - each one of a single dough-boy WW1 US-soldier.

The restoration - 1986

As can be read from the photo below, the boxcar underwent a "major overhaul" in 1986.

The doors were replaced. Other carpentry work was done. The boxcar was painted.

The "plagues" - shields were completely re-done with red-wood and new design. Please note that there are shields on both sides of the Ohio boxcar.

On November 11, 1986 a restoration dedication ceremony was held.


As to the accuracy of the shields - please see the shields page.

However it is necessary to correct some basic flaws :
[ # ] = Presuming that the 40 shields on all 49 boxcars were identical.
  • There should be only 2 diagonal rows - each with 10 shields.
  • [ # ] 5th shield from left - top row - didn't exist. "Chaumont" were not one of the 40 districts.
  • 4th shield from left - bottom row : "Champagne" is spelled with an "e" at the end.
  • [ # ] 4th shield from right - bottom row - didn't exist. "Vizille" were not one of the 40 districts.
  • [ # ] 3th shield from right - bottom row - didn't exist. "Blois" were not one of the 40 districts.
  • [ # ] 1st shield from left - most bottom row - didn't exist. "Chenonceaux" were not one of the 40 districts.
  • [ # ] 2'd shield from right - most bottom row - didn't exist. "Fontainebleau" were not one of the 40 districts.
  • [ # ] 1st shield from right - most bottom row - didn't exist. "Josselin" were not one of the 40 districts.
  • [ # ] Several of the shields on the "hidden" side are also purely fictional.

The "Logo"-shield, the "American Eagle" shield, and the metal plaque, stating that it is the "Ohio" boxcar, are missing on both sides of the boxcar.


In the January - March 1987 issue of "Buckeye Guard", published by "Public Affairs Office, Ohio Adjutant General's Department", the restoration of the boxcar was mentioned in an article :

ohio merci gratitude train boxcar
© 1987 - Ohio National Guard
Download original PDF - 8,6 MB.
[ www.ong.ohio.gov/buckeye_guard/archives/1987-BG-V11N7-Jan-Mar.pdf ]


As can be seen the boxcar is not sheltered and is placed in what appears to be a different location ( see the background ) compared to the present location ( 2014 ).

My photos of the Merci Train boxcar in Ohio

Location :
Camp Perry National Guard Camp, near Port Clinton, OH.

You can download my Google Earth kmz-file with the positions of all the remaining 43 boxcars.



The Ohio boxcar is very well-preserved and is kept under a 3-wall shelter with a roof.

The coat-of-arms are beautifully done, but there are some very strange spelling of the names of the French departments / regions. See more above .

The Ohio boxcar is placed inside a National Guard camp, but access is free and it appears to be a public road.


However I hadn't been there for more the 5 minutes before a guy in full uniform appeared, also with a camera in hand, and kinda checked out what kind of person I was.

He told me that he was there for the semi-annual rifle shooting practise, but I didn't see any other soldiers in full uniform.

As you can see from the pictures the National Guard have displayed quite a lot of their old armour / tanks; even anti-aircraft rockets, so taking pictures there shouldn't be THAT suspicious.


Click on an image to enlarge :

Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar
Ohio Gratitude Merci Train boxcar








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