The Merci Train
PA National Guard Military Museum
Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania
submitted by “wendyvee”
update 3/11/2011 –
New! See Virginia’s Merci Car here!
Yesterday afternoon, I decided to take a spin across part of PA’s Route 443. It’s a nice mix of curves, forests, farms etc., …. and it also happens to pass straight through The National Guard Training Center at Fort Indiantown Gap.
I knew that the museum located at “The Gap” (as locals often refer to it) is open to the public on Mondays and Fridays, so I decided to check it out. As it turned out, the museum was closed for a private function yesterday. Luckily there are a number of outdoor exhibits.
How It All Started …
In 1947, in response to newspaper accounts of the hardships that Europeans were facing in the aftermath of World War II, thousands of Americans donated food, fuel, blankets, and clothing. The initial goal was to fill 80 train cars with donations from across the United States. The train ultimately collected over 700 cars full of itemsto be delivered via ship to Havre, France. Many referred to this project as The Friendship Train.
The Merci Train
In early 1949, the people of France reciprocated this kindness by sending 49 French train cars filled with gifts for each of the American states (one for each of the 48 states in existence at the time – plus one to share between Washington DC & Hawaii). The contents of each of the cars of The Merci Train varied and the modern-day disposition of the contents of the cars varies from state to state.
These unusually-sized military transport railroad cars are called “Forty-and-Eights” because they were said to hold 40 men or 8 horses. Note the sign near the top of the car: Hommes 40 Chevaux 8.
The car that I visited was gifted to the citizensof Pennsylvania and it rests on the grounds of Fort Indiantown Gap.
Click the Indiantown Gap tag at the end of this post to see more of the outdoor exhibits at “The Gap”
Have you visited a Merci Train car in your state? If so, I’d love to hear about it!