Website owned and operated by the:
Rail City Historical Museum
162 Stanley Drive
Sandy Creek, NY 13145
Robert J Groman, Owner/Curator

The country of France was in ruin and barely able to continue following years of war and
occupation by the Nazis following WWII. Where the Marshall Plan provided a government
sponsored form of aid to the French, newspaper columnist Drew Pearson appealed to the
heart of the American people for a grass roots form of relief aid. Americans responded with
40 million dollars worth of food, clothing and medical supplies from all 48 states. It was
loaded into 700 box cars referred to as the Friendship Train and shipped to France in 1947.
In response to the American Friendship Train, the people of France reciprocated with
their own Merci Train. The idea originated with Andre' Picard, a french veteran and
railroad worker. The train consisted of 49 French railroad box cars built between 1872 and
1885 and used up until the end of WWII. One car was directed to each the 48 states with
one car to be shared by Washington, D.C. and the territory of Hawaii. During WWI and
WWII, these box cars were used to transport soldiers and animals each having the capacity
to hold either 40 men or 8 horses (hence the name "40 and 8" car). American soldiers who
were transported in Pullman cars to US ports to board ships for France were crammed into
these old wooden box cars for transport to the front when they landed.
The car above, destined for the state of New York, was paraded down Broadway ticker-
tape parade style to the delight of about 200,000 people. Inside the car were many gifts
including a 500 pound bell cast by the city of Annecy. The bell was labeled to the attention
of Cardinal Spellman and he placed it in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. But most
of the gifts were more of a personal nature from people who had little to give at the time.
The New York State 40 & 8 Merci Train Box Car was under the care of the Onondaga
County Voiture #359 and was loaned to Rail City Museum for display with other vintage
railroad equipment in 1956. It remained on display at Rail City for 18 years.
"The first steam-operating railroad museum in the U.S.A."