“Whatever Happened to Ohio’s Gratitude Train?”

This question was recently posed by a Cleveland Plain Dealer reader. In 1949 French citizens sent 50 boxcars to the United States filled with gifts to thank Americans for food and other relief supplies sent to Europe after World War II ended. They were called the “Gratitutde Train” or the “Merci Train.” After Ohio’s boxcar finished touring the state it was taken to Camp Perry, an Ohio National Guard camp located near Port Clinton, Ohio.

Ohio's Gratitude Train touring the state on a flatbed truck.

A variety of items that were displayed in the train are preserved at the Ohio Historical Society.

Museum objects include:

  • Ashtray
  • Cap
  • Doll
  • Fireguard
  • Kettle
  • Wedding Dress
  • Bust of General Lafayette
  • Bust of General Lafayette that was on board the 1949 Merci Train, from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society.

    Archival collections include:

  • SC 1344, French Gratitude Train Photographs
  • VFM 3077 AV, Merci des Enfants de France

    Woman viewing doll display inside Ohio's Gratitude Train.

  • The Merci des Enfants materials include essays, phonograph recordings, and original artwork by French children expressing their thanks accompanied by papers explaining the Merci Train project.

    For the full story see The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

    This entry was posted in collections. Bookmark the permalink.

    5 Responses to “Whatever Happened to Ohio’s Gratitude Train?”

    1. Susan Mann says:

      The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore MD has a couple of these boxcars in their roundhouse.

    2. Cheryl says:

      I wonder what happened to the rest of the boxcars, did the other states perserve them…It is very nice that the Ohio boxcar can still be seen.

      After looking at the contents, I wonder, was General Lafayette’s bust included because of the French Five Hundred (many of his aristocratic friends) who settled in Gallipolis and that he visited with in May of 1825?

      Makes one wonder why certain things were included.

    3. Harry Parsons says:

      My wife and I saw Arizona’s gratitude train car preserved and respectfully displayed at the railroad museum in Scottsdale this spring. It was interesting to read about it and touchingly reminded us the human sacrifice our soldiers made to uphold freedom.
      Being members of the Ohio Historical Society, I suggest the boxcar be moved to OHS in Columbus and set up at the Center’s entrance where more of the visiting public, specially young people, could witness that gratitude the French people wanted to show us in appreciation of America’s unselfish sacrifice.
      Harry and Nancy

    4. Pingback: The Merci Train: 49 Boxcars Filled With Gratitude - Funny web, funny life | SampleFun.com

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