Monday, November 6, 2017

70th anniversary of America's Friendship Train

November 7 is the 70th anniversary of the Friendship Train.

On that date the Train, filled with donations of food, clothing and other items for Europeans suffering from the after-effects of World War II, started its journey across America.

The Train was conceived by journalist Drew Pearson as a way to help people in France and Italy suffering from the after-effects of World War II.

The Friendship Train began in Los Angeles and travelled to New York. Cars filled with relief supplies were added along the way. A northern collection of cars started in Indiana and joined the rest of the Train in New York.

The Trains was easy to spot; communities that filled the cars put signs and banners on them indicating where the donated items had come from.

Altogether, 270 cars of food and other items were filled and made their way to New York. The value of the donated materials was set at $40 million.

In response, the French created the Merci (“thank-you”) Train, which was sent to America in 1949. Some of the cars are still on display in the U.S.

My interest in the Friendship Train arose because of a Mennonite Central Committee boxcar that was inspired by the Friendship Train.

I used to work for that relief and development agency, and was intrigued when I first learned about the HO scale car.

I ended up making versions of the car for MCC’s 75th anniversary as a fundraiser, and have come to own N, HO and O scale versions of the car.

You can read more about the Friendship Train, and my collection here. You can watch a video of the train here.

A Facebook page about the Friendship Train can be found here, with lots of photos and other information.

I think it’s safe to say we will never see another train like it—even though the world sure could use a lot more friendship today.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Neil Young Selling Part of his O Gauge Collection

This psychedelic Hudson from Young's collection can be yours!

Canadian-born Neil Young—who I have written about previously on this blog—is well-known in model railroad circles for is love of model trains.

Now he is selling part of his large O Gauge model train collection.

“Collecting all of these items has been my great joy. They have provided a source of inspiration, fun and creativity throughout my life,” Young said in a statement.

“Now it is time to share them with others in the world who I hope will enjoy and love them as much as I have.”

According to Reuters, Young is putting more than 230 of his vast collection of Lionel trains up for auction at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles on December 9.

Some of them are listed at up to $9,000.

Young became a model railroader as a way to connect with his son Ben, who has cerebral palsy.

In his book Waging Heavy Peace he wrote that  “I was just getting back into trains at the time, reintroducing myself to a pastime I enjoyed as a child. Sharing the building of the layout together was one of our happiest times."

Young devised a control system to allow Ben to operate trains. "It took a lot of effort, but it was very rewarding for him to see the cause and effect in action. Ben was empowered by this."

Later, the layout became a refuge for him.

The layout, he said, creates “a zen experience” that allows him to “sift through the chaos, the songs, the people, and the feelings from my upbringing that still haunt me today . . .  I need it. For me it is a road back.”

Over the years Young, who once became a part-owner of Lionel, adopted an online alter ego named Clyde Coil to talk about his trains.

This included a website called Coil Couplers of America.

But back to the auction.

Highlights include a Lionel Hudson factory prototype locomotive, and a  psychedelic Hudson.

Young is also selling some of his classic car collection.