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Scottsdale in Maricopa County, Arizona — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

Merci Train Boxcar

A Gift of Friendship

 
 
Arizona Merci Train Marker (<i>mounted on pedestal, on north side of boxcar</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 11, 2014
1. Arizona Merci Train Marker (mounted on pedestal, on north side of boxcar)
Inscription.  This boxcar is one of 49 that comprised the French Gratitude Train. Once filled with 50 tons of gifts, the Gratitude Train was a way for the people of France to say “Thank You” to the American people for their help during and after World War II. More than six million French families contributed gifts from their own possessions to help fill the cars, which were distributed to each state of the Union after their arrival in the United States in 1949.

The boxcar belonging to the people of Arizona has been restored to 1949 condition. Today, it serves as a remembrance of two countries who always fought “for the liberty and dignity of man.”
Dedicated November 11, 1989
Scottsdale, Arizona


(Interpretive Panel 1 – located in kiosk near marker)
Arizona’s boxcar was heralded in February of 1949 in a ceremony at the Capitol featuring several French officials and an appearance by newspaper columnist Drew Pearson, who had sponsored the Friendship Train to France. Pearson addressed a joint session of the Arizona Legislature and persuaded American officials to
Arizona Merci Train Marker (<i>wide view; marker on left; boxcar restoration plaque on right</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 11, 2014
2. Arizona Merci Train Marker (wide view; marker on left; boxcar restoration plaque on right)
“continue to acquaint the world with its ideals, its aim and its purpose.”

After several months of public display, the gifts were stored in the archives under the Carnegie Public Library building in downtown Phoenix. The boxcar resides here at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.

Arizona’s boxcar held a surprising array of gifts: a Peugeot bicycle, military helmets, an elegant silk wedding gown, about sixty wind-up toy Renault cars, a handmade lace bonnet, and a mother-of-pearl fan. More striking than the gifts were the emotional notes that accompanied them.

One note, dated November 13, 1948, was attached to a small gold-framed portrait of a nun. “I offer this gladly to our savior, America”. “The Nun, in Napoleon’s day, was like Mother Superior at the convent of Rheims. She was my mother’s great aunt. The attached picture was given to the nun by her nephew on his return from a campaign under the great Napoleon… My best wishes and friendship to the American people from an old Parisian Lady.” The note is signed by Mme. Florine Combe, who added a postscript: “Long live the Friendship Train!”

(Interpretive Panel 2 – located in kiosk near marker)
The vast variety of gifts were distributed to many different places throughout the United States and are now virtually untraceable except for
Arizona Merci Train Interpretive Panel 1 (<i>located in kiosk near marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 11, 2014
3. Arizona Merci Train Interpretive Panel 1 (located in kiosk near marker)
a few items on display or stored in museums.

The boxcars themselves have also lost their significance over time, but Zina Kuhn, a resident of Scottsdale, is changing that. Her contributions and efforts have rekindled a spark. Zina made a trip to Paris in October 1985 to speak to French officials about the replacement of the 40 missing Coat of Arms that originally decorated each boxcar. After obtaining a letter of introduction from Congressman Eldon Rudd and a letter from Mayor Herb Drinkwater appointing her a goodwill ambassador for the City of Scottsdale, Zina talked with M. Millanvoye, president of the National Federation of War Veterans in France. M. Millanvoye and his assistants were surprised and deeply touched by the fact that almost 40 years since the presentation of the train, someone from the United States wanted to take on the restoration of the forgotten boxcar.

Since that time, the boxcar has been moved from Pioneer Village to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. A ramada has been built to protect it from the elements and it has been restored to its original state. Kuhn made this project a reality through many years of hard work and dedication.

Under the guidance of John Muller, a volunteer who supervised the loading, tie down and unloading of the train, the car was moved on November 7, 1987, to its restoration site at the McCormick-Stillman
Arizona Merci Train Interpretive Panel 2 (<i>located in kiosk near marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 11, 2014
4. Arizona Merci Train Interpretive Panel 2 (located in kiosk near marker)
Railroad Park.

The train began as an aid project after the end of WWII. Today it stands as a reminder of friendship between the great countries of France and the United States. Long live the Merci Train!
 
Erected 1989 by City of Scottsdale, Arizona.
 
Topics and series. This memorial is listed in these topic lists: Notable EventsRailroads & StreetcarsWar, World II. In addition, it is included in the Merci Train Boxcars series list.
 
Location. 33° 32.283′ N, 111° 55.392′ W. Marker is in Scottsdale, Arizona, in Maricopa County. Memorial can be reached from East Indian Bend Road east of North Scottsdale Road, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located on the north side of the "French Boxcar" exhibit, within Scottsdale's McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7301 East Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale AZ 85250, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Peoria Train Depot (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Chief Washakie (approx. 2.4 miles away); Passing the Legacy (approx. 2.7 miles away); Permanent Home of the "Beavers" (approx. 3 miles away); Charles Miller (approx. 3 miles away); 1929 - U.S. Post Office
Arizona Merci Train Boxcar (<i>north side view from beside marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 11, 2014
5. Arizona Merci Train Boxcar (north side view from beside marker)
(approx. 3.1 miles away); The Chaplain (approx. 3.1 miles away); Winfield Scott Memorial (approx. 3.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Scottsdale.
 
More about this marker. Marker is a large metal tablet, mounted horizontally on a waist-high concrete pedestal, adjacent to the subject boxcar, on its north side. Marker was in need of cleaning at the time these pictures were taken.
 
Also see . . .  Mercitrain.org website about the Arizona Boxcar (includes artifact photos). (Submitted on February 11, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
 
Arizona Merci Train Boxcar (<i>south side view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 11, 2014
6. Arizona Merci Train Boxcar (south side view)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 12, 2019. It was originally submitted on November 23, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 136 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on November 26, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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Mar. 8, 2021