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Do you remember the Merci Train?

Do you remember the Merci Train?

Published on March 13, 2009
The Nevada State Museum in Carson City has begun the Merci Project to search for Nevadans who were involved in the Friendship Train project in 1947 or have memories of the arrival of the Merci Train boxcar in 1949.

The citizens of France had gathered the gifts and sent a boxcar full to each of America’s states on the "Train de la Reconnaisance Francaise." The treasures were sent in gratitude for food and clothing aid sent by American citizens on the "Friendship Train" in 1947. With almost every gift came a handwritten note in French expressing the donor’s gratitude.

The Nevada State Museum in Carson City has begun the Merci Project to search for Nevadans who were involved in the Friendship Train project in 1947 or have memories of the arrival of the Merci Train boxcar in 1949.

"We hope to reach out to the community for people who remember the arrival of the boxcar and interview them about their memories of the Merci Train and American and French relations following World War II," said Sue Ann Monteleone, museum registrar.

The Nevada State Museum recently received a planning grant for the project from the Nevada Humanities, a program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Merci Project, "Compassion and Gratitude: The Nevada Friendship Train and the Merci Train," will research the collection of gifts that arrived on the train and will involve translating a sample of the accompanying notes and connecting them to the gifts.

The original boxcar and a sample of the gifts can be seen at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, 2180 S. Carson St. Other gifts are stored in the collections at Nevada State Museum,
600 N. Carson St. The museum plans to display them in future exhibits developed from its Merci Project research.

Currently, Aurelie Delaissez Forstall and Veronique Chacon, both of French origin, are helping to research, translate and interpret the Merci Train letters and gifts.

"They have both contacted friends and family in France who are eager to help find some of the original donors," Monteleone said.

Also in connection with the Merci Project, the Nevada State Museum is designing a medallion commemorating the 60th anniversary of the boxcar’s arrival. The medallion will incorporate the symbol of the Merci Train and will be minted on Coin Press No. 1 this spring.

Monteleone, curator Bob Nylen and grant worker Mary Works Covington are the primary researchers on the project and seek information from Nevadans who remember the arrival of the Merci Train. Anyone with information is asked to contact Nylen at 775-687-4810, ext. 239; Monteleone at 775-687-4810, ext. 240, or sueann.monteleone@ nevadaculture.org; Covington at mary4merci@yahoo.com; or the museum’s history office at 775-687-4810, ext. 241.

See Reno-Gazette-Journal : http://www.rgj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009903170311

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