THE  “MAINE ‘MERCI’ CAR”

    A gift from the people of France to the people of Maine.

      The Story of the Merci Train

In 1947, an American newspaper columnist, Drew Pearson, began asking for donations of food and clothing that could be sent to help the people of France and Italy. Public response was overwhelming and $40 million in food and supplies were collected and shipped to Europe aboard the 700-car American Friendship Train. A French veteran of WW I and rail worker, André Picard, suggested that France respond by sending a single boxcar full of gifts to America as a way of saying thank you. Tens of thousands of French citizens donated objects to be sent to the United States.

Since the outpouring of goods was so great, it was decided that one boxcar would be sent to each state with one being shared between the District of Columbia and the Territory of Hawaii. Each car was to be adorned with the coats of arms of all of the provinces of France.

In all, 52,000 gifts were collected, ranging from worn wooden shoes to a jeweled Legion of Honor medal that belonged to Napoleon. The collection also included a Louis XV carriage, children’s drawings, and tree seedlings. The 49-car train was shipped to America aboard the freighter Magellan, which sailed into New York Harbor on February 3, 1949. A different gauge from US railroads, the cars were loaded onto flatcars in New Jersey for delivery, at no charge, by the nation’s railroads to state capitals across the country.

The “Forty and Eight” draws its origin from World War I. The boxcars were first constructed in the 1870’s and each boxcar carried 40 men or 8 horses. The cars dimensions measured, only 20.5 feet long and 8.5 feet wide.

Maine’s Merci Boxcar

Maine’s boxcar is part of the collections at the Boothbay Railway Village. The museum is responsible for its stewardship and interpretation. Working with the Maine State Museum and interested organizations and individuals the Boothbay Railway Village seeks to not only fully restore the 40 & 8 boxcar but also provide a proper pavilion for its continued preservation. Additionally the Boothbay Railway Village will be creating educational materials and resources for use in schools and for researchers seeking to better their knowledge of this unique gift from France.

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The List of the French Provincial Coat of Arms  (Plaques)

AlsaceShield2375in
AngoumoisShield2375in
AnjouShield2375in
ArtoisShield2375in
AunisShield2375in
AuvergneShield2375in
BearnShield2375in
BerryShield2375in
BourbonnaisShield2375in
BourgogneShield2375in
BretagneShield2375in
CdeFoixShield2375in
CdeNiceShield2375in
CVenaissinShield2375in
ChampagneShield2375in
CorsicaShield2375in
DauphineShield2375ini
FlandreShield2375in
FrancheCShield2375in
GascogneShield2375in
GuyenneShield2375in
IledeFranceShield2375in
LanguedocShield2375in
LimousinShield2375in
LorraineShield2375in
LyonnaiseShield2375in
MaineShield2375in
MarcheShield2375in
NivernaisShield2375in
NormandieShield2375in
OrleanaisShield2375in
PicardieShield2375in
PoitouShield2375in
ProvenceShield2375in
RoussillonShield2375in
SaintongeShield2375in
SavoieShield2375in
TouraineShield2375in
VendeeShield2375in
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Plague(s) sponsored: write-in below:

Name of Sponsor(s)___________________________________________________________________________

Mailing Address (one address please)_____________________________________________________________

 

Phone (with area code)___________________________________________________________________

Email address____________________________________________________________

Please make check(s) for $200 made out to Boothbay Railway Village (write “Merci Car” on note line) and mail to:

 

Merci Car

Boothbay Railway Village

P.O. Box 123

Boothbay, ME 04537

 

All sponsorships are tax deductible within the limits of the law.

As a SPONSOR you will receive:

A certificate of sponsorship

Name engraved on a permanent display at the Merci Car Pavilion

Name listed on the Boothbay Railway Village “Merci Car” website.

YOU MAY CHOOSE TO BE ANONYMOUS:

Please make my donation anonymous__________________. (Check)  here please.

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