In 1947 Americans opened their hearts and filled The Friendship Train. The train, conceived by Washington columnist Drew Pearson, traveled across the United States collecting donated goods to be sent to a struggling war torn Europe. Fort Wayne, Allen County and neighboring communities contributed more than a carload of condensed milk to the Friendship Train that made it overseas for distribution in the winter of 1947.
The generosity of the Americans greatly affected the people of France who in response sent the United States a thank you. In 1948 the French set out to collect gifts to send back on what was called "La Train de le Reconnaissance" or the Merci Train. "Merci" meaning thank you in French. The effort acquired 49 boxcars of gifts to be distributed with one boxcar going to each state and one boxcar being split by Washington D.C. and the territory of Hawaii.
Fort Wayne Mayor Henry E. Branning, Jr. traveled in June of 1949 to collect Fort Wayne's allocation of gifts from the Merci Train that had arrived in Indianapolis. On June 17, 1949 Mayor Branning brought some of those gifts to the Allen County - Fort Wayne Historical Society to place in the permanent collection.