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1947 Friendship Train -and- Model Railroading

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  • 1947 Friendship Train -and- Model Railroading

    62 years ago this month, the Friendship Train was wending its way from Los Angeles to New York, loaded with donated food, medicine and clothing for people in France and Italy who were still suffering from the ravages of World War II.

    Communities along the way filled boxcars with donated aid, putting banners and signs on the sides to show where the gifts came from. (See photo below.) In the end, 270 cars of aid made their way to New York, where the aid was loaded on a ship for Europe.

    In response, the French sent the Merci Train to the U.S. in 1949--thank-you cars for each state carrying gifts from the people of France. (See photo of Michigan car, below.)

    The Friendship Train inspired a unique model: The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) boxcar. At least nine versions of this car have been made in HO, O and N scales, starting with a Train Miniature boxcar in the 1960s. (The Athearn version is above.)

    I've written about the 1947 Friendship Train and the MCC boxcar on my blog at It also has photos of all nine of the MCC boxcars in my collection, along with other photos and links to Friendship and Merci Train pages (including a link to a newsreel of the Friendship Train).

    It's a unique chapter U.S. railroad history, and an interesting sideline for me--especially since I spent the bulk of my career in international relief and development work, including 12 years with MCC.

    John Longhurst, Winnipeg

    Car filled with aid from Arkansas.

  • #2

    Here is a shot I took of North Carolina's car in the NC Transportation Museum, in Spencer, NC: