The Nevada State Museum Presents Compassion and Gratitude: The Nevada Friendship Train and The Merci Train
In 1947 the American people collected 700 boxcars loaded with food, clothing and fuel to help the people of France who were struggling desperately to recover from World War II. This "Friendship Train" stopped in Reno to collect the food gathered from all across the state of Nevada. In 1949 the French people collected a trainload of gifts for the Americans, filling 49 boxcars with tokens and treasures from the French provinces, one for each state and one to be shared between Hawaii and Washington D.C. The existence of these trains, and a time when international friendship was on a citizen to citizen scale is nearly forgotten. Most Nevadans have little knowledge of this chapter in our history. While the boxcar has been restored and is on display at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, the bulk of the gifts are currently not accessible to the public, a situation partially remedied through this website. The notes and the significance of the gifts represent the best of humanity; the kindness that humans can give and share in the face of great suffering, the deep connection possible across cultural and spatial boundaries.
THIS EXHIBIT IS MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY A GRANT FROM NEVADA HUMANITIES, A STATE PROGRAM OF THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES; AND FUNDING BY THE BRETZLAFF HISTORY FUND AND KENNY AND DEMA GUINN