In February 1949, a merchant ship docked at Weehawhen, New Jersey to deliver its cargo of 49 railroad boxcars that were marked on the side "TRAIN DE LA RECONNAISSANCE FRANCAISE", and on the other side "GRATITUDE TRAIN". These boxcars were laden with gifts from the French people in gratitude and appreciation to the United States for the "Friendship Train" which the French people received from the United States on December 18, 1947. The "Friendship Train" which was loaded with carloads of food, medicine and supplies was sent to France to help the people recover after WWII. The "GRATITUDE TRAIN" boxcars were marked with French letters "Hommes 40 (40 Men) and CHEVAUX 8 (8 Horses) indicating the freight load of the boxcar.
The "GRATITUDE TRAIN" consisted of forty-nine boxcars, one for each for the forty-eight states, and one for the District of Columbia to be shared with the district of Hawaii. Each car contained gifts, artwork, and treasured items from the people of France. The Kansas boxcar first arrived in Topeka in June 1949 and visited 120 communities before its last stop in Hays on November 11, 1949. A huge community celebration, parade and acceptance ceremony was held in Hays on that Veterans Day. On display in the Boxcar is memorabilia and artifacts of military history.
A free tour of the boxcar can be arranged by calling 785-623-6747.