Boothbay Railway Village presents a Free Presentation
Saturday, April 19, 1:30PM
Illustrated Talk on Maine's Merci Car:
A Gift from the People of France
On Saturday, April 19 from 1:30 - 3:00 pm the Boothbay Railway Village will host Kate McBrien of the Maine State Museum in Augusta for a lecture on Maine's Merci Car and its contents. As Curator of Historic Collections at the Maine State Museum, Kate McBrien is fortunate to care for the State's collection of fine gifts from the Merci Train.
The Merci Train was a train of 49 French railroad box cars filled with tens of thousands of gifts of gratitude from at least that many individual French citizens. They were showing their appreciation for the more than 700 American box cars of relief goods sent to them by (primarily) individual Americans in 1948. The Merci Train arrived in New York harbor on February 3rd, 1949 and each of the 48 American states at that time received one of the gift laden box cars. The 49th box car was shared by Washington D.C. and the Territory of Hawaii.
Maine's boxcar is part of the permanent collection at the Boothbay Railway Village. A restoration of the car and its beautiful plaques, bearing the coats of arms of all of the provinces of France, was completed in 2009.
The Maine State Museum in Augusta is home to the contents of Maine's boxcar.
According to McBrien, "It's an important story that transcends time. A story that can inspire anybody, to remind you that you can do something, you can make a contribution, you can make a difference to people. These were gifts given by people who were just trying to rebuild their own lives. Yet they took the time to find a gift, make a gift, send a gift to a people thousands of miles away to say thank you. It is an example of the best intent of giving."
In addition to the Merci Car collection, McBrien also cares for a variety of material in the museum's collection, including tools, toys, and transportation equipment. An alum of the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies, Kate first moved to Maine to join the staff of the Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick. She served as both Curator and Interim Executive Director there before moving on to the American Independence Museum in Exeter, NH. She joined the Maine State Museum in 2008.