Merci Train Car
Virginia War Museum
9285 Warwick Boulevard
Newport News, Virginia
submitted by: “MikeP”
Today I found myself down near Newport News, so I stopped by the Virginia War Museum and got a couple pics of their Merci Train Car.
Last May, I posted the Merci Train Car at Fort Indiantown Gap (Click here to visit the Pennsylvania Car). Mike recently found the car that was gifted to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Unlike the Pennsylvania Car, which is displayed outdoors, the Virginia Car is housed indoors. You can even walk into the car’s interior!
Thanks for the pics, Mike!
Trust me – I know how hard it is to take museum pictures without using a flash 🙂
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 items to 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. The car has a sign near the top of the car: Hommes 40 Chevaux 8.
Have you visited a Merci Train car in your state? If so, I’d love to hear about it!