N.C. Transportation Museum’s

Gratitude Train Rail Car Focus of Community Celebrations

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About Us

In February of 1949, the people of France donated 49 rail cars, one to each U.S. state and another to be shared between the territory of Hawaii and Washington, D.C.

These cars, filled with French goods and handmade items, were a gift of thanks to the American people for post-World War II recovery efforts. It was called the Gratitude Train, or Merci Train.

North Carolina’s Merci car resides at the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer. In honor of the 70th anniversary of the arrival of North Carolina’s Merci boxcar in Raleigh, the N.C. Transportation Museum is partnering with local businesses and organizations to plan celebrations with the themes of World War II, French culture, and most of all, gratitude.

49 Days of Gratitude

Exhibit Opens Feb. 9, 2019

See the North Carolina Merci Train car and actual gifts given by the French people, learn about the Gratitude Train that inspired the Merci Train, and much more.


North Rowan Fresh Artists Silly City Exhibition @ Waterworks Visual Arts Center
Feb 9 @ 12:00 pm – Mar 30 @ 12:00 pm
Rowan Salisbury Student Exhibitions @ Waterworks Visual Arts Center
Feb 13 @ 12:00 pm – Mar 30 @ 12:00 pm
African American Involvement in WWII – A Panel Discussion
Feb 20 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Hood Theological Seminary
1810 Lutheran Synod Dr.
Salisbury, NC 28144
(704) 636-6517

Wednesday, Feb 20, 11am – 1pm
Room #315

Panelists:         Dr. Torren Gatson, Assistant Professor, UNCG, Mr. Reginald Brown, Local Historian, Salisbury, NC

Moderator:      Dr. Sharon Grant, Assistant Professor, Hood Theological Seminary

Rowan Public Libraries Gratitude events
Feb 23 all-day
  • Introductory Swing Dancing – 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Rowan Public Library Headquarters – Stanback Auditorium – Love Dancing with the Stars? Want to see if you can cut a rug? This introductory class is free and fun! A professional dance instructor will show you the basics. Please call Abby at 704-216-8248 or email info@rowancountync.gov to reserve your spot. Adult. Family.

  • World War II Movie, Anchors Aweigh – 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM @ Rowan Public Library – East Branch – Meeting Room – Celebrate the golden age of cinema with the 1945 Anchors Aweigh (not rated, 140 min.). For more information about this screening, call 704-216-7840.

  • World War II Movie, Casablanca – 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM @ South Rowan Regional Library – Meeting Room – Play it again, Sam. Celebrate the golden age of cinema with the 1942 film Casablanca (PG, 122 min.). For more information about this screening, call 704-216-7730.

Gratitude Journaling
Feb 25 all-day
  •  Gratitude Journaling: Cultivating Happiness and Positivity – 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Rowan Public Library Headquarters – Stanback Auditorium – Reduce stress, improve your sleep, increase self esteem, and improve your relationships by cultivating gratitude in your life. Bring a blank notebook to our free and fun event and learn the basics of how to start your own gratitude journal. Call Abby at 704-216-8248 or email info@rowancountync.gov to sign up.

Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit
Feb 27 – Mar 3 all-day

Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit “Rise Above” at the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer. The RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit is a mobile movie theater that tours the country year round to educate and inspire people of all ages with the history and lessons of the Tuskegee Airmen. The museum is now taking reservations from school groups and home schoolers who would like to view this immersive film.  The public is also welcome. Special train rides will be offered Feb. 27-March 1 for school groups and regular visitors, with regular passenger trains available March 2-3.

Meet Me in Paris
Mar 9 all-day
  • Meet Me in Paris – Center for Faith & the Arts Gala – Lee Street Theatre, Salisbury, NC

Salute to Women
Mar 9 all-day

Salute to Women in Service at the Hefner VA Medical Center Building 42, featuring veterans, music and more.

Speaker – Author Linda Baten Johnson
Mar 9 all-day

Linda Baten Johnson, author of The Friendship Train, will discuss the U.S. Humanitarian “Friendship Train” of 1947, the true stories behind that effort to aid Europe, and the response from the French, the Merci Train of 1949. – N.C. Transportation Museum

Kiwanis Club of Salisbury – Pancake Festival
Mar 9 @ 7:30 am – 10:30 am

With their emphasis on children, the Kiwanis Club of Salisbury has decided to extend gratitude to the “teachers of the Rowan Salisbury Schools System” by offering them free admission to this year’s Pancake Festival with their school ID.

The Festival will be held at the Hurley Family YMCA on Jake Alexander Blvd.

The Great War – World War I
Mar 15 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

“The Great War” — Phoenix Readers & St. John’s Lutheran Church – 7:30pm

Jim Epperson, retired Catawba Theatre Arts Department Chair, directs a moving program of the words of those who were there in the Great War.  This program was first presented in conjunction with the Rowan Public Library and the traveling WWI exhibit provided by the state of North Carolina.

As with the war effort, the program starts with the high spirits of saving the world in “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag”.  Then excerpts from War Horse and All Quiet on the Western Front give way to more serious matters.

We hear from an ambulance driver who describes the loathsome chore of cleaning her ambulance each morning after transporting the wounded and the dying.  Included is one man’s memory of the Christmas truce in which enemies shared a brief respite from the gassing, shooting, dying, and killing.

The Phoenix Readers’ WWI program closes with a nurse’s search for a friend among the wounded and a memory of many aunts by a man who realizes the cost of war to future generations.

The Phoenix Readers for the Great War program are Ray Davies, Karl Hales, Mike Kline, Kate Davis, and Lori VanWallendael.

American Girl
Mar 16 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

American Girl “Molly on the Home Front” at N.C. Museum of Dolls, Toys & Miniatures.

1:00pm – 3:00pm At the Spencer Woman’ Club 100 Third St. Spencer, NC 28159 (Hosted by the NC Museum of Dolls, Toys & Miniatures

Cost: $15 per Adult and $10 per Junior

Registration includes: Displays * Door Prizes * Snacks * Programs * Souvenirs * Museum Tour * Drawing for Original AG dolls

Program Presenter: Cheryl Phillips

This Tea (Party) will include games, doll displays, door prizes, snacks, souvenirs and a program on the life and times of the American Girl character Molly. Molly’s story revolves around World War II and how it affects the lives of 9-year old Molly and her close-knit family.

After the party, attendees will tour the Doll, Toy & Miniature Museum at 108 Fourth Street Spencer, NC 28159. The museum is located a short 1 block walk from the Woman’s Club. * Please indicate if food allergies are present.

Call the NC Museum of Dolls, Toys & Miniatures at 704-762-9359 to register.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE is February 12, 2018.  No refunds after February 5.

Merci Weekend Thursday Kick-Off
Mar 21 all-day

Merci Weekend Thursday Kick-Off: Dr. Gary Freeze Presents “The French Connections to Old Rowan – Catawba College

First Responders Drive-Thru Breakfast
Mar 21 @ 6:00 am – 10:00 am

First United Methodist Church of Salisbury 217 S. Church Street, Salisbury. NC

Drive-through breakfast bags will be given out at for all of our county’s first responders, Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS.

Merci Weekend
Mar 22 all-day

Merci Weekend – All things French

Cinema CFA
Mar 24 all-day
  • Cinema CFA presents Sarah’s Key

Soful Yoga and Wellness “Gathering for Gratitude”
Mar 24 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

This community event will include a gentle, heart-opening yoga class with a theme of gratitude. The class will be led by SoFul’s French-born instructor, Christine Zimmer, who will also share her experience of living in post-war France. Also a chef, Christine will feature a sampling of French finger food. A special rate of $10 will include both the class and the tasting. Guests are asked to register at www.sofulyoga.com and bring an item to donate to Family Crisis Council Rowan for the women’s shelter. A list of needed items is at fccrowan.org/our-needs.

Closing Ceremony
Mar 30 – Mar 31 all-day
  • Closing Ceremony – Piedmont Prime Time Community Band & Voices of Veterans performed by drama students

Donation Boxes

49 Gratitude boxes will be placed at local businesses and organizations, gathering donations for numerous causes across Rowan County. If you are interested in sponsoring a box ($100 donation), please call 704-636-2889 ext. 228, or send an email to betsy@49daysofgratitude.com.