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The 1947 Friendship Train in Nevada
by Dorothy R. Scheele

“…I urge all Nevadans to give their share of required food….” declared Governor Vail Pittman in a proclamation dated November 1, 1947, thus beginning Nevada’s impressive contribution to the national Friendship Train.

To accomplish this goal, Gov. Pittman relied heavily on the schools throughout the state and on Mildred Bray, Superintendent of Schools. Some of the Governor’s other appointees included Miss Margaret Griffin, who became Chairman of the Nevada Citizens Food Committee and Lloyd Dowler, State Supervisor of Vocational Agriculture, who was in charge of collecting food from the state’s large rural areas. All foodstuffs were taken to Reno, the train’s only stop in Nevada. William T. Holcomb, Chief Engineer of the Highway Department, permitted the trucks to be used for that purpose.

The number of towns, cities, and counties contributing were too numerous to cite all of them, but the entire state jumped to the cause. Many towns, such as Austin and Sparks, lamented that they had not had adequate time to give as much as they had intended. Mayor Vern Hursh or Sparks designated the Lion’s Club to head the drive, and Senior Boy Scouts packed the foodstuffs. In Hawthorne and Babbit, Cub Scouts went from door-to-door collecting. Fire Chief Lester G. Lindsay drove a truck from White Pine County to Reno. Contributing towns to this truck’s cargo were Austin, Elko, Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, and Ely. Towns in proximity to Reno which gave to the drive were Carson City, Gardnerville, Yerington, Verdi, and Virginia City. Students of the University of Nevada hauled wheat 700 miles to give to the Friendship Train.

Gov. Pittman’s belief in Nevadans was certainly justified: the state’s 15,000 residents filled two boxcars -- and grieved that they had not had the time to do more.

The author welcomes any additional information which would add to this state's history.

The Friendship Train was the genesis for the French Merci Train. Website has information about that train.

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