Local members of The Society of 40 men and 8 horses, otherwise known as the 40&8, were joined by several others from around the state in Topeka, as Governor Jeff Colyer signed a proclamation declaring June 16, 2018, as Kansas Merci Boxcar Day.
The reason for the proclamation was to help the citizens of Kansas know about the uniquely historic boxcar and invite them to visit. On June 16, the Kansas Merci Boxcar and Museum is to be rededicated in its new home in Veterans Memorial Park in Hays, behind Cloud Storage at 1305 Canterbury. The public is invited to the 3 p.m. rededication June 16. As part of the ceremony, the 40 & 8 will read the governor’s proclamation and be making presentations to the City of Hays as well as others that have supported the move.
In 1949, famous news reporter Drew Pearson came up with the idea to send a friendship train filled with much needed supplies to France after WWII. They ended up shipping over 700 American box cars filled with needed supplies. In gratitude of this assistance, the people of France filled 49 box cars of the type of box cars used to ship equipment and supplies to the front in WWI and WWII. The box cars were able to hold 40 men or 8 horses which is the origin of The Society of 40 men and 8 horses name. The French people filled them with 50,000 gifts of cultural significance. There was one box car for each of the 48 states and the District of Columbia and Hawaii shared one. The Kansas box car toured 120 cities in 140 days and ended in Hays on 11 November, 1949. After it was paraded through town during the Armistice Day Parade, it was relocated to Fort Hays State College for permanent display and awarded to the local 40 and 8 chapter to maintain and preserve the historic monument for the state of Kansas. From its original location at Fort Hays State College, it was moved to the American Legion in 1975 where it was rebuilt and turned into a museum of the wars of the 20th century on. Because the American Legion Sold its building the Kansas Merci Box Car needed a new home. The City of Hays has approved for the box car to move to Hays Veterans Park, which will give the Kansas Merci Box Car a permanent home. This will help us preserve this unique piece of history here in Hays, KS for the entire state and nation to enjoy and learn of its history.
The 40 & 8 encourage the citizens of Hays and the surrounding area to come and learn about the boxcar. Tours will be available after the ceremony. Those who would like to chedule a tour of The Kansas Merci Boxcar and Museum, call Vance Chartier at (785) 623-6747 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Kansas Merci Boxcar and Museum also can be found on Facebook.