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USA : The Merci Train boxcar in Pennsylvania (PA)



"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 - Details about the boxcar - The gifts - My photos

Main sources :

www.newspapers.comwww.mercitrain.org

Most of the information below has been collected from old newspaper articles. [ Caution : 15+ MB content ].

In the fall of 2002 Dorothy Scheele wrote a comprehensive article "The Friendship & Merci Trains Visit Western Pennsylvania" ➚ in the magazine "Western Pennsylvania History - Fall 2002" - pages 34 - 42. Main link : Open Journal Systems ➚. With the article comes a list of sources.


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

Pennsylvania :

pennsylvania state map
From www.freeprintoutmaps.com

Harrisburg is in "Dauphin County".
Altoona is in "Blair County".
Gettysburg is in "Adams County".

The Pennsylvania boxcar

The boxcar was delivered to the capitol of each state; - in Pennsylvania it was Harrisburg.

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

Pennsylvania "Merci Train" welcome committee

Committee appointed by Governor James Henderson Duff.
  1. John S. Branyan, Harrisburg - Friendship Train organizer - General Chairman.
    He had a heart attack on Saturday, February 05, 1949 - but still fulfilled his duties on Monday, February 07, 1949
  2. Edmund Deeter, vice-chairman.
  3. Charles J. Biddle - Philadelphia - honorary chairman.
  • 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, New Jersey.

    • "Merci Train" arrived in Philadelphia, Broad Street Station, Track 4, at 11:45 AM.

    • The "Pennsylvania" and "West Virginia" boxcars were taken off the "Merci Train".

    • The "Pennsylvania "and "West Virginia" boxcars were on display in Philadelphia during the rest of Saturday, February 05, 1949.

    • Ceremony in Philadelphia :
      • Senator Francis J. Meyers received the train.
      • Philadelphia Mayor Bernard Samuel
      • A representative of the French Government
      • Local committee:
        • William H. Jones, Springfield - Chairman of the "Chester Friendship Train" drive.
        • Carl Mau, Marcus Hook - Filled one "Friendship Train" boxcar.
      • Speach by Drew Pearson.

  • Sunday, February 06, 1949.
    • The "Pennsylvania" and "West Virginia" boxcars were put into a normal freight train / service of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and transported, still on US-flatcars, to Lancaster where they were exhibited for 30 minutes at 10:00 AM.

    • Pennsylvania boxcar shifted to a siding.

    • West Virginia boxcar, bound for Charleston, shipped from Lancaster via Hagerstown, Maryland.

      Daniel B. Strickler
      Daniel Bursk Strickler
      Lieutenant governor 1947 - 1951.
    • Ceremony in Lancaster :
      • Speech by Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania :
        Daniel Bursk Strickler.
      • Mademoiselle Madeline Petit,
        representing the French consulate in Boston.
      • John Kearns, Lancaster.
      • Nat Hager,
        vice-chairman of the Lancaster welcome committee.
      • John Donovan - representative of Drew Pearson.

        Lancaster - Nat Hager - John Kearns - Madeline Petit
        Nat Hager - John Kearns - Madeline Petit

    • Pennsylvania boxcar put on a local freight train from Lancaster to Harrisburg.

  • Monday, February 07, 1949.
    • Pennsylvania boxcar arrived on railroad flatcar to Harrisburg Monday morning.

    • Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) railroad crew for the transport to Harrisburg :
      • Engineer Elmer Zimmerman
      • Fireman "Red" Deal
      • Conductor T. WIlliam First
      • Flagman Kenneth Shepley
      • Brakeman A.L. Wintermeyer

    • The boxcar was moved from the railroad flatcar to a "low-boy" truck trailer used for transporting heavy construction equipment.

    • Parade through the streets of Harrisburg :
      • Started at 02:30 PM.
        • Fischer Plaza
        • Commonweatlh Avenue
        • Walnut Street
        • Fourth Street
        • Market Street
        • Market Square
        • Second Street
        • Walnut Street
        • Third Street
        • State Street
        • Capitol Plaza

      • Parochial schools dismissed Monday at noon to give children opportunity to see the parade.

      • Parade led by :
        • William L. Windsor III, past department commander of the American Legion.
        • Captain Frank Hilton.
        • Sgt. Jerry McCann.
        • Captain Seward Young.

      • One of first cars carried M. Puaux and John S. Branyan.

      • 8 man honor guard from the 28th Division, Pennsylvania National Guard, walked beside the boxcar :
        1. Sgt. Herman P. Bruce
        2. Sgt. Robert W. Adams
        3. Sgt. Herbert A. Shambaugh, Sr.
        4. Sgt Richard O. Colgate
        5. Sgt Charles W. Smith
        6. Sgt. William Comrey
        7. Pfc Herbert A. Shambaugh, Jr.
        8. Recruit Ralph Rhodes

      • Members of "40&8" Voiture at Ellendale Forge marched in front of Merci Train boxcar.

      • Bands that played in the parade :
        • William Penn High School band
        • John Harris Highschool band
        • Catholic High School band

      • Members from 40&8 Dauphin-Perry County Voiture.

      • Boy Scouts of the Green Bar patrol.

      • Color guard from Company D, 8th regiment : French Tri-Color and The Stars and Stripes.

      • Parade ended at the State Capitol in front of the "State Museum of Pennsylvania".

    • Ceremonies was held in front of "State Museum of Pennsylvania" :
      pennsylvania harrisburg gratitude merci train boxcar
      Photo from February 08, 1949.
      Photo © "The Evening News - Harrisburg"
      February 08, 1949.
      pennsylvania harrisburg gratitude merci train boxcar
      The same view in April 2015.
      © www.trains-and-trains.dk
      2015

      In 1949 the building was the "Pennsylvania State Museum". It was built in 1894 and was originally designed to house the State Library and State Museum of Pennsylvania, and the Governor's Office and Reception Room. Now ( from 1999 ) it is the "Speaker Matthew J. Ryan Buliding".

      Attending the ceremonies were :
      • Master of ceremonies : Dick Redmond - program director for the "State Thank you Train committee".
      • Francois Puaux, Assistant French consul-general in New York City. [ mis-spelled in the newspapers as "Tuaux" ]
        Presented the boxcar to Governor James Henderson Duff.
      • Governor James Henderson Duff.
      • Major General Daniel B. Strickler, commanding general of the 28th division Pennsylvania National Guard. Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.
      • 28th division staff officers :
        • Lt. Col. Charles S. Rowew
        • Lt. Col. Miles W. Albright
        • Chief Warrant Officer Edward E. Snyder
        • Major Harry C. Swartz
        • Lt. col. Albert J. Youndt
        • Col William A. Boyson
      • Commandant Guy de la Vasselais - representing the French government
        • General George Patton's liaison officer - Officer of the Legion of Honor - Cross of War med 11 citations - Mayor of Saint Symphorien le Château (Eure et Loir) - Commissioner general of the French "Merci Train".
      • State secretary of internal affairs William S. Livengood Jr. - Somerset County.
      • Brig. General Frank A. Weber.
      • A representative for Drew Pearson.
      • Harrisburg mayor Claude R. Robins
      • Philadelhia mayor Bernard Samuel.
      • Pittsburg mayor David Lawrence.
      • John S. Branyan - chairman of the Pennsylvania "Merci Train" welcome committee.
      • Edmund Deeter, vice-chairman of the state and city committees
      • Raoul Blondeau - French consul in Philadelphia.
      • Charles J. Biddle - Philadelphia - honorary chairman of the PA State Thank you Train committee
      • Delegations from Erie and Wilkes-Barre and numerous other cities.
        Headquarters at Hotel Harrisburger.
      • Nanette Marchand aka Mrs. A. Marshall Coyne, Philadelphia - member of the executive board of "American Aid to France" - sang "La Marseillaise".
      • Honor guest :
        Mademoiselle Helene Blondeau - daughter of the French consul in Philadelphia.

      • Journalists - press and radio :
        • Gladys Swift
        • Ted Deeter
        • Bob MacMillen
        • Dich Redmond - master of ceremonies.

    • Harrisburg Mayor Claude R. Robins made a speech, in French, in honor of Francois Puaux, Assistant French consul-general in New York City. The speech was published in the newspapers on February 07, 1949 and was critized for it's bad French.

      Things were not made better when there was some confusion about the sur-name of the French Assistant General-Consul.

      Was it "Tuaux" or "Puaux" ??
      In fact it was "Puaux" - and "Francois Puaux" went on to be France's ambassador in Egypt from 1968 - 1972.

      But in the letter from the Mayor and in all newspapers it was "Francois Tuaux" !

    • Governor James Henderson Duff broke the seal on the boxcar. [ Photo : February 08 ].

    • Boxcar taken to rear of State Museum building for unloading.

    • Boxcar placed in the basement of the State Museum building "...to await final disposition.".
    28 infantry division, Pennsylvania National Guard

  • Thursday, March 03, 1949.
    The Pennsylvania "Merci Train" welcome committee decided to give the boxcar to the 28 infantry division, Pennsylvania National Guard, to be kept at "Indiantown Gap Military Reservation".

    The 28th Division took active part in liberating France and Paris.

    Their shoulder patch - a red keystone - was displayed at the Victory March down Champs-Elysees on August 29, 1944 - see photo to the right.

  • Saturday, June 07, 1958.
    A car, driven by Vincent Herman Aurentz, crashed into the boxcar at "Indiantown Gap Military Reservation" and also damaged the scrubbery.

    Place of accident is named as "Intersection of routes 343 and 443", which by the names of the routes today (2014) doesn't make any sense, since the 2 routes doesn't cross at all.

    Boxcar was standing on the grounds of the Service Club. Estimated damages : $ 1,200.

    No details about damages to the boxcar.

    On a side-note : Vincent Herman Aurentz died ➚ on Sunday August 19, 1962.

  • 1983
    According to Lt. Col. Grey D. Berrier II, commander of the Ft. Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Site in 2008, "...members of the Pennsylvania National Guard donated money to finance a restoration project that helped to preserve the historic boxcar..." in 1983.

  • 1986
    By 1986 a shelter had been erected to protect the boxcar.

    The shelter was dedicated by :
    • Pennsylvania adjutant general Maj. Gen. Richard M. Scott
    • French Army Col. Jean-Pierre Chessel
    • Mr. Andrew Dolak from "40&8 Society - South Carolina American Legion"

    Merci Train Pennsylvania boxcar Indiantown Gap
    Picture © "Fort Indiantown Gap" from Facebook
    [ https://www.facebook.com/ftindiantowngap/photos_stream ]
    On a side-note :
    Maj. Gen. Richard M. Scott had a long and "larger-than-life" life and carreer within the Pennsylvania National Guard. Worth reading about.

  • 2008
    Merci Train Pennsylvania boxcar Indiantown Gap
    The invitation
    to the ceremony
    on November 07, 2008.
    © www.mercitrain.org
    On November 07, 2008 there was a dedication ceremony ➚ at the boxcar at Fort Indiantown Gap where a plaque was unveiled.

    The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Questors, a Philadelphia-based antique and historical preservation organization celebrated the boxcar with the plaque.

    The plaque can be seen on my photos below.

    Unfortunately the plaque states that the welcome ceremony in Harrisburg in 1949 took place on February 06th.

    The boxcar DID arrive in Harrisburg on February 06th, but the actual welcome ceremony and parade was on February 07th.

    Present at the ceremony was :
    • Maj. Gen. Jessica L. Wright, the adjutant general of Pennsylvania.
    • Lt. Col. Grey D. Berrier II, commander of the Ft. Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Site.
    • Rita Meneses, cultural resources manager at Fort Indiantown Gap.
    • Pamela Todd, an official with the Questors.

    Merci Train Pennsylvania boxcar Indiantown Gap
    Picture © November 07, 2008
    Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs - News and media archive - 2008
    [ http://www.milvet.state.pa.us/DMVA/3336.htm ]
    From left to right : Rita Meneses, Pamela Todd, Jessica L. Wright.

    Most interestingly the "coat-of-arms" are mounted ON the boxcar on the photo. Presumably the coat-of-arms are stored in a safe place and only placed on the boxcar for special occasions.

  • 1949 - present day ( 2015 ).
    The Pennsylvania boxcar from the "Merci Train" has been standing at the "Indiantown Gap Military Reservation" since March 1949.

    It is displayed at the intersection between "Fischer Avenue" and "Clement Avenue" free for all to see and admire.

    Links :
    Pennsylvania National Guard Military Museum
    Pennsylvania National Guard Military Museum - Static displays


    I found this old post-card from around 1950 :

    pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar

    showing the boxcar standing at "Indiantown Gap Military Reservation" with the mile-marker-stone from Saint Avold in France in front of it.

    In the background there is a military building ( The Service Club ) with at least 3 colums in front.

    This is how the building looks in 2015 :
    pennsylvania indiantown gap gratitude merci train boxcar

    Obviously the boxcar has been standing at the same place since 1949.

    The mile-marker-stone from Saint Avold in France is still in front of the boxcar. See my photos below.


    pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar
    As you can see from this old map of the "Indiantown Gap Military Reservation" the "Service Club" [ item N ] is right at the insections between "Fischer Avenue" and "Clement Avenue".
    [ http://www.longshoresoldiers.com/2010/09/indiantown-gap-in-wwii.html ➚ ]


    The postcard obviously has fake colors, so the boxcar appears almost greenish.

    Interestingly there are numbers where the shields should be, which can also be seen on the Maryland boxcar.


    The boxcar was restored in the 1980'ties :
    According to Dorothy Scheele :
    "... the 40&8's "Preservation Committee" and the Pennsylvania National Guard rescued the car from oblivion and raised funds to restore it. A dedication ceremony was held in November 1986. ..."


Details about the Pennsylvania boxcar

See also my own photos below

( To be further researched what )

The Pennsylvania boxcar is one of the best kept boxcars, and one of the few boxcars that have a brake-mans cabin.

The Pennsylvania boxcar does have, at least some, coat-of-arms from the French departments / districts, but they are not ordinarely mounted on the boxcar. See photo from 2008 above.

The coat-of-arms are clearly reproductions, but - from the few that can be seen in the picture - rather well done with many details and correct spelling.

The PLM sign :
P.L.M.
15 / 4U

is a mystery and not original in any way.

The original PLM sign was :
P.L.M
J 57411

according to this newspaper photo :
harrisburg merci gratitude boxcar

The "hommes 40" sign is not original. It should have been painted on the doors - not mounted as a sign.

The Eagle sign and the "Pennsylvania" state-plate are also missing.


The gifts from the Pennsylvania boxcar

On www.mercitrain.org ➚ there are more details about the gifts :

A link to Records of the Pennsylvania Historical And Museum Commission ➚ where it says :
"RG-13 - Records of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Executive Director - Donald A. Cadzow, Executive Director, 1945-1956 -- 13-0798 carton 4 - Ceremonies (1946-1949), French Thank You (merci) Train, 1948-1949 (2 folders)"

Main information about the gifts in the Pennsylvania boxcar :

  • An estimated 10,000+ gifts was believed to be in the boxcar. After registration this turned out to be "more than 1,000 gifts".
  • Unpacked and inventoried at the "State Museum" starting Monday February 07, 1949.
  • Gifts included valuable paintings, rare books, ceramics, glasswork, samples of products from French industry a.o.
  • One of the first petroleum-operated automobiles was amongst the gifts.
  • Gifts was distributed equally to all communities that had contributed to the "Friendship Train" in 1947. Any legitimate request was considered. Gifts would be displayed permanently all over Pennsylvania in museums, libraries, borough halls or headquarters of veteran organizations.
  • First display of gifts opened 02 PM on Monday, February 14th, 1949 at the "Great Hall of Throphies", second floor, State Museum.
  • By March 02, 1949 more than 8,000 visitors had seen the exhibition of the gifts. By March 12 more than 15,000 visitors had seen the exhibition.
  • Exhibition open till March 18.
  • Sunday opening hours : 1 to 5 PM.
  • Committee to decide upon distribution of the gifts :
    • Edmund M. Deeter - chairman - vice-chairman of the Pennsylvania "Merci Train" welcome committee.
    • Dr. Donald A. Cadzow - executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
    • John S. Branyan - Chairman of the State Friendship Train committee.
  • Committee invited applications because no close record of contributors to the "Friendship Train" had been kept.
  • Distribution of the gifts had started by Friday March 25, 1949.
  • Many gifts had been designated for certain groups by their French donors :
    • Package for the Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Harriburg - allocated to Most Rev. George L. Leech.
    • Number of toys for the Catholic orphanage of Harrisburg - allocated to "Sylvan Heights Orphanage".
  • All gifts allocated by March 31, 1949. All gifts were given to museums, libraries and other public places. No gifts were allocated to individuals. None of the gifts were auctioned off or sold.
  • Some gifts were designated for out-of-state communities or individuals and forwarded to these at the committee's own expense.

Monday, February 14, 1949

Brief ( 15 min. ) but impressive ceremony - First display of gifts opened 02 PM - Great Hall of Trophies in the State Museum. National anthem played.
  • Lt. gov. Daniel B. Strickler
  • Rt. Rev. Msgr. George D. Mulcahy, secretary to the Most Rev. George L. Leech - Bishop of the Harrisburg Catholic Diocese offered the prayer.
  • Dr. Donald A. Cadzow - executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
  • Miss Ruth A. Douglas - Miss Pennsylvania 1948 - sang "La Marseillaise".
    On → Youtube ➚ you can see a video of Mrs. Ruth Douglas Kline talking about the Class of 1945 in celebration of the "Susquehanna Township High School" celebration of its 100th Commencement ceremony on Monday, June 11, 2012.
  • Mrs. James H. Duff - governors wife - broke ribbon on the doorway to the Great Hall of Trophies.
  • The Catholic Highschool Band - Ted Brownagle, director - played.
  • Benediction by Rev. Dr. Joseph D. Krout, secretary of the Pennsylvania Synod of the United Lutheran Church.
  • Mrs. Frank Entry, Champ Hill - a native of Paris.
  • Color guard from Company D, 8th. Infantry.

Applicants to receive gifts from the "Merci Train Boxcar". 150 - 200 requests were received by the committee.

  • Gettysburg Lions Club - David M. Swope headed committee for the Friendship Train collection. Justice of Peace John H. Basehore to bring the gifts from Harrisburg to Gettysburg around April 5, 1949. On display on Monday, April119149, at an evening meeting at the Trinity Reformed church. To be given to the Adams County Historical Society.
  • Dauphin County Historical Society - Harrisburg.
  • Altoona - mayor J. Lester Laughlin. Representative, councilman George A. Busch, Jr., sent to accept and collect Altoona's allocation.
  • Hanover Public Library. Mrs. Mabel C. Wolcott - Public librarian. Charles Diller to bring gifts to Hanover. 4 books and 4 items.
  • Huntingdon Lions Club - 14 gifts. On display at C.H. Miller Hardware Company start of April 1949. Gifts to be given to the Huntingdon County Historical Society.

List - no particular order - of known gifts from the Pennsylvania boxcar :

  1. Sevres porcelain vase, black with small gold designs.
    • From : French President Vincent Auriol.
    • Allocated to : Governor James Henderson Duff.
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Given to the Governor on Monday, March 28, 1949.
  2. Coat of arms.
    • From : Unknown cathedral in France.
    • Allocated to : John Branyon.
    • Present or last known location : Philip Hensel - Florida.
    • Other remarks : Perhaps not "kosher" that one of the organizers allocated a gift to himself. Two photos of the gift can be found on www.mercitrain.org ➚.
      merci Train - pennsylvania - gift coat of arms © Dorothy Scheele.


  3. One of the first petroleum-operated automobiles - Built 1893 - Speed 20mph.
    • From : An electrician from Royan - departement of Charente-Maritime.
    • Allocated to : ?.
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : I regard it as highly unlikely that it was an original scale 1:1 automobile. Look at pictures of automobiles from around 1893 and you'll notice that they are way too large to have been put into the French railroad boxcar. Most likely it was a model. - It now turns out that there is a photo of the "automobile" - in fact a "tricycle" at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.


  4. Stuffed toy dog.
    • From : Unknown little French girl.
    • Allocated to : ?
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Note saying that it should be given to a little American girl of her age.
  5. Womans shawl.
    • From : Unknown French woman.
    • Allocated to : ?
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks :
  6. Fan.
    • From : Unknown French woman.
    • Allocated to : ?
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : A keepsake from the donors mother.
  7. Wreath of small beads.
    • From : ?.
    • Allocated to : ?
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Note "To the glorious American soldiers who gave their lives for France".
  8. Handmade American Flag.
    • From : ?.
    • Allocated to : Lions Club Gettysburg.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Adams County Historical Society ➚, Gettysburg.
    • Other remarks : 2x3 feet.
  9. Books of art work.
    • From : Donated by grammar school children.
    • Allocated to : Lions Club Gettysburg.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Adams County Historical Society ➚, Gettysburg.
    • Other remarks :
  10. Piece of iron ore and a casting enclosed in a small steel case.
    • From : Lorraine.
    • Allocated to : Lions Club Gettysburg.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Adams County Historical Society ➚, Gettysburg.
    • Other remarks :
  11. Wooden box with metal paper knives - one made from a shell fragment from WW1 Battle of "Yser".
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : Lions Club Gettysburg.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Adams County Historical Society ➚, Gettysburg.
    • Other remarks : "Yser" is in Belgium.
  12. Paper knife made from copper rotating band from a 75 or 155 mm shell.
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : Lions Club Gettysburg.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Adams County Historical Society ➚, Gettysburg.
    • Other remarks : "Yser" is in Belgium.
  13. Ornamental vase from Paris.
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : Lions Club Gettysburg.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Adams County Historical Society ➚, Gettysburg.
    • Other remarks :
  14. Sepia picture of a monk.
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : Lions Club Gettysburg.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Adams County Historical Society ➚, Gettysburg.
    • Other remarks : Note saying : "A token of gratitude to American Catholics from St. Vincent de Paul Conclave and France and other European countries devastated by the war."
  15. Textiles.
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : "Lebanon".
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks :
  16. One painting.
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : Dauphin County Historical Society ➚ in Harrisburg.
    • Present or last known location : Dauphin County Historical Society in Harrisburg.
    • Other remarks : The Dauphin County Historical Society could "select and choose". Their gift was not allocated.
  17. "Several other art pieces".
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : Dauphin County Historical Society ➚ in Harrisburg.
    • Present or last known location : Dauphin County Historical Society in Harrisburg.
    • Other remarks : The Dauphin County Historical Society could "select and choose". Their gift was not allocated.
  18. Beautiful handmade bridal gown.
    • From : City of Lyon.
    • Allocated to : "Philadelphia".
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Note : "For some happy American Bride".
  19. Beautiful handmade bridal gown.
    • From : City of Lyon.
    • Allocated to : "Lancaster".
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Note : "For some happy American Bride".
  20. Stone monument.
    • From : Citizens of Saint-Avold.
    • Allocated to : 28th. Division of the Pennsylvania National Guard in Indiantown Gap
    • Present or last known location : Indiantown Gap just next to the "Pennsylvania Merci Train boxcar". See also photos below.
    • Other remarks : The stone monument is in fact one of the special mile-stones that marks the "Voie de la Liberte - Freedom Trail" that runs through France from the Normandy beaches to Bastogne in Belgium. "Saint-Avold" is not on the "Freedom Train". Nearest town would be Metz about 30 km to the west. Interesting to know how the citizens of Saint-Avold got hold of that mile-stone. However just outside Saint-Avold is one of the largest American War Cemetaries outside the USA.
      See also photo below.
  21. Un-disclosed gifts. See also items 42 through 59.
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : Altoona.
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks :
  22. Large 450 page folio book af designs. Artistic adverticing layouts for products from France.
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : Hanover Public Library ➚ - Mrs. Mabel C. Wolcott, public librarian.
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Today : Guthrie Memorial Library. One of four books allocated to the Hanover Public Library.
  23. "How to learn French Without Toil".
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : Hanover Public Library ➚ - Mrs. Mabel C. Wolcott, public librarian.
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Today : Guthrie Memorial Library. One of four books allocated to the Hanover Public Library.
  24. "Cataloque of statuary and sculptured works in French galleries and museums".
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : Hanover Public Library ➚ - Mrs. Mabel C. Wolcott, public librarian.
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Today : Guthrie Memorial Library. One of four books allocated to the Hanover Public Library.
  25. "Introduction to France".
    • From : ?
    • Allocated to : Hanover Public Library ➚ - Mrs. Mabel C. Wolcott, public librarian.
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Today : Guthrie Memorial Library. One of four books allocated to the Hanover Public Library.
  26. Paper cutter of copper.
    • From : Henri Yvonne Christiane Claude Guy Nicolas from Nancy.
    • Allocated to : Hanover Public Library ➚ - Mrs. Mabel C. Wolcott, public librarian.
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Today : Guthrie Memorial Library. One of four souvenirs of French workmanship allocated to the Hanover Public Library. - From metal from the battlefield of Verdun - Inscription "Verdun 1916" and "A souvenir to our American Friends from Henri Yvonne Christiane Claude Guy Nicolas, of Nancy".
  27. Framed view of the book-stalls along the Seine in Paris at the back of the Notre-Dame Cathedral.
    • From : Mademoiselle Breton from Villemouble, Seine.
    • Allocated to : Hanover Public Library ➚ - Mrs. Mabel C. Wolcott, public librarian.
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Today : Guthrie Memorial Library. One of four souvenirs of French workmanship allocated to the Hanover Public Library.
  28. Costume plate - bustle era - brown silk - feathered bonnet - lace veil.
    • From : Felix Maccord & family from Vincennes.
    • Allocated to : Hanover Public Library ➚ - Mrs. Mabel C. Wolcott, public librarian.
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Today : Guthrie Memorial Library. One of four souvenirs of French workmanship allocated to the Hanover Public Library.
  29. Green ceramic ash tray with the three "Fleurs de lis of Caen".
    • From : M. Coupet from Paris.
    • Allocated to : Hanover Public Library ➚ - Mrs. Mabel C. Wolcott, public librarian.
    • Present or last known location : ?
    • Other remarks : Today : Guthrie Memorial Library. One of four souvenirs of French workmanship allocated to the Hanover Public Library.
  30. Painting - "A Pot of Cyclamens".
    • From : Henriette Bateman, Chevalier au Merite Social, St. Omer.
    • Allocated to : Lions Club in Huntingdon.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Huntingdon County Historical Society ➚.
    • Other remarks : Artist : "Henriette Bateman, Chevalier au Merite Social, St. Omer". Note : "Being an artist painter I am very happy to send you one of my paintings. My husband is a novelist and he is happy as me to send you several copy of his book in the same wagon than me. With all our gratitude to the American people: We shall never froget what his glorious army has done. Henriette Bateman - Jean Bateman. Vivent lest Etats-Unis et le President Truman - Vive La France."
  31. Painting - "Le Fresnes".
  32. White stutuette - "Havilland - Vase Etrusque - Paris".
  33. Toy wind-up auto - Renault.
  34. French-English textbook.
  35. French green/gold standard.
    • From : Mrs. Lespieit from Versailles.
    • Allocated to : Lions Club in Huntingdon.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Huntingdon County Historical Society ➚.
    • Other remarks :
  36. Woven wooden basket.
    • From : Mrs. Salmi-Rather from Nanterre.
    • Allocated to : Lions Club in Huntingdon.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Huntingdon County Historical Society ➚.
    • Other remarks : Mrs. Salmi-Rather wrote in a note that due to illness she was unable to send more than 4 gifts.
  37. German medal "1818-1939" + "swastika".
    • From : Mrs. Salmi-Rather from Nanterre.
    • Allocated to : Lions Club in Huntingdon.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Huntingdon County Historical Society ➚.
    • Other remarks : Mrs. Salmi-Rather wrote in a note that due to illness she was unable to send more than 4 gifts.
  38. Porcelain vase.
    • From : Mrs. Salmi-Rather from Nanterre.
    • Allocated to : Lions Club in Huntingdon.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Huntingdon County Historical Society ➚.
    • Other remarks : Mrs. Salmi-Rather wrote in a note that due to illness she was unable to send more than 4 gifts.
  39. 2 pieces of needlework.
    • From : Mrs. Salmi-Rather from Nanterre.
    • Allocated to : Lions Club in Huntingdon.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Huntingdon County Historical Society ➚.
    • Other remarks : Mrs. Salmi-Rather wrote in a note that due to illness she was unable to send more than 4 gifts.
  40. Blue-grey colored pitcher and matching ash-tray.
    • From : Societe Lyonnaise de ceramique from Latour de Savagney, Rhone.
    • Allocated to : Lions Club in Huntingdon.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Huntingdon County Historical Society ➚.
    • Other remarks :
  41. Stainless steel bread-knife.
    • From : Guyenneou from Chatelierault.
    • Allocated to : Lions Club in Huntingdon.
    • Present or last known location : Forwarded to Huntingdon County Historical Society ➚.
    • Other remarks :
  42. Book.
  43. Porcelain cup.
  44. Necklace.
  45. Toy car.
  46. 2 matching cases for a comb and glasses.
  47. Leather briefcase.
  48. Cataloque from an exhibition about La Fayette ( 1757 - 1834 ).
  49. Folder from "Musee de cooperation Franco-Americaine".
  50. Folder from "Musee de Blerancourt" in Aisne.
  51. German written notice from WW2.
  52. Book "Sous la botte des Nazis" by Jean Eparvier from 1944.
  53. Cataloque from the "Exposition de L'Histoire de L'ordre de Malte".
  54. Book.
  55. Booklet "Dessin" - "Provinces de France - Costumes". Artist :
  56. Item - black.
  57. 3 photos - national dresses.
  58. Letter - manuscript.
  59. Image - "Bergers de la vallee de Bethmale ".
  60. 8 religious pictures.
  61. 4 pictures children in national dresses.



My photos of the Merci Train boxcar in Pennsylvania

Location :
Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard Post (near I-81, exit 29), Annville, PA 17003.
At intersection between "Fischer Avenue" and "Clement Avenue".

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


If you should want to see the Pennsylvania boxcar PLEASE be aware that the boxcar is in the middle of a very active National Guard military facility, although the boxcar is located "ON DISPLAY" just next to an ordinary public road (Fischer Avenue), leading through the military grounds.

The National Guard has even put some old air-planes and tanks on public display, just next to the boxcar.

Never-the-less you should NOT be surprised if a Military Police patrol car appears and the MP's want to know what you are doing taking pictures of the artifacts put on public display.


Click on an image to enlarge :

pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar

pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar

pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar

pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar

pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar

pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar

pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar
Unfortunately the text is not 100 % correct.
The ceremony in Harrisburg
was on February 07, 1949 - not the 6th.
pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar


pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar

pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar

pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar

pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar pennsylvania merci gratitude train boxcar


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