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.
The List of the French Provincial Coat of Arms (Plaques)
Plague(s) sponsored: write-in below:
Name of Sponsor(s)___________________________________________________________________________
Mailing Address (one address please)_____________________________________________________________
Phone (with area code)___________________________________________________________________
Please make check(s) for $200 made out to Boothbay Railway Village (write “Merci Car” on note line) and mail to:
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.
2 of 2 Sponsored
1 of 2 Sponsored