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The 1947 Friendship Train in Wyoming
by Dorothy R. Scheele

Green River was the first scheduled stop in Wyoming. Local officials who were present were Tracey S. McCraken, a Cheyenne newspaper publisher who was representing Gov. Lester C. Hunt; Mayor R. J. Stapleton; and Mr. Pingatore from the Department of Agriculture. Green River and the towns of Evanston, Big Piney, Pinedale, Kemmerer, Afton, and Cokeville all donated three carloads of food. The last three named towns donated macaroni and spaghetti and $700 in cash.

Stopping next in Rock Springs, where Mayor Edwin James presented 735 cases of canned milk the residents had donated.

In Rawlins, several hundred people, willing to endure the sharp wind and sub-freezing temperatures, waited at the foot of Fourth Street for the train to roar to their town. Rawlins High School Band played and radio station KRAL broadcast the event. The Rawlins Friendship Train committee consisted of Chad Shaffer, who coordinated all of the campaign drive in the town and who was also president of the Lions Club. Frank L. Kerman and Fred Healey, who organized Platte Valley. Ellen Kastner who received pledges from local organizations.

Before the 21 committees assigned to collect and coordinate the food drives in Carbon County had even begun their work, residents of Medicine Bow, Dixon, Elk Mountain, and other Carbon County towns had contributed over 200 cases of evaporated milk. Big Horn County and the towns of Ten Sleep, Worland, Lovell, Powell, and Cody had collected $221, enough to purchase 41 cases of evaporated milk.

In Laramie, Tom Brennan chaired the food drive. In many towns across Wyoming, collecting for the train was combined with recreation. People held milking contests, outdoor concerts, and midnight films. Musicians from the University formed a dance band led by Chuck Chameson. All activities were intended to raise money to meet Laramie’s goal of 100 cartons of evaporated milk. As was usual smaller surrounding towns contributed.

At the ceremony the Mayor Laramie gave the bill of lading to Drew Pearson who in turn gave it to Gov. Hunt.

Cheyenne was unique in that the city did not conduct an official campaign. The capital relied on the media to publicize. The Eagle and Tribune ran ads and radio station KFBC Broadcast information about it. Immediately after the word was spread, pledges of wheat donations began pouring in. Other towns contributing were Albin, Burns, and Pine Bluffs. Communities from Torrington and Lingle counties send hundreds of bushels of wheat. Cheyenne’s two boxcars completed the Cowboy state’s donation. Many local newspapers listed the names of the individuals and organizations which contributed.

The largest crowd in Cheyenne’s history to date watched the train, now approximately 45 cars long, roar out of their state. The sides of the boxcars bore the words, “Vive L’ Italia” and “Vive La France.” They also had two hands clasped in Friendship, undoubtedly the appropriate symbol of the Friendship Train and of Wyoming.

List of Works Consulted

“4,000 Speed Friendship Train” Wyoming Eagle Nov. 12, 1947, [Here-in-After “4,000.”]
 “Crowd Braves Cold To Greet Train” Daily Times [Rawlins WY] Nov. 12, 1947: 1+.  [Here-in-After “Crowd Braves.”]
“Big Horn Basin Gives $221 To Friendship Train” Daily Times [Worland, WY] Nov. 11, 1947, 1+.
“Boxcar Loaded With 886 Cases of Milk Will Be Added Here” Daily Times [Rawlins WY] Nov. 11, 1947, 1+.
“European Friendship Train Was Big Success” Pioche Record [Pioche NV] Feb. 28, 1948: 5.
“Food Train To Stop Here If On Schedule” Rock Springs Sunday Miner [Rock Springs WY] Nov. 9, 1947: 1. [Here-in-After“Food Train.”]
“Friendship Train Campaign Underway, Committees Named” Daily Times [Rawlins WY] Nov. 5, 1947 1+. Nov. 4, 1947: 1+.
“Friendship Train Milk Drive Near Quota” Laramie Boomerang Nov. 10, 1947, 1.
“Friendship Train Starts Across Nation Gathering Food For Europe” Daily Rocket [Rock Springs WY] Nov. 8, 1947: 1.
“G. R. Donation Excels All Other Wyoming Cities” Green River Star Nov. 14 1847: 1+.  [Here-in-After“ G. R. Friendship.”]
“Grain Donations Continue To Pour In” Wyoming Eagle Nov. 7, 1947: 1+.
“Green River Drives For Freedom Train [sic] Quota of Carload Canned Milk” Green River Star Nov. 7, 1947: 1.  In this article the Friendship Train again is erroneously referred to as the Freedom train.
“Here’s A Personal Act Russians Couldn’t Perform” Green River Star Nov. 7, 1947: 1.  Here-in-After  “Hour Stop.”
“Hour Stop Here featured On Radio Program” Green River Star [Green River WY] Oct. 31, 1+, 1947.   [Here-in-After “Hour Stop.”] Throughout this article the Friendship Train is referred to as the Freedom train.  The trains crossed the country simultaneously but were going in opposite directions.  The Freedom train carried historical documents for the public to view.  Editors and writers not infrequently confused these trains.
“Laramie’s Gift of Milk To Friendship Train Rolls East” Laramie Boomerang Nov. 11, 1947, 1.
“Large Donations To Hungry People Of Europe Added at Green River” Daily Rocket [Rock Springs WY] Nov. 1, 1947: 1+.
“Local Lions Club Spearheads ‘Friendship Train’ Campaign” Daily Times [Rawlins WY] Nov. 1, 1947, 1+.
“More Than 700 Attend Show Given To Boost Friendship Train Drive” Daily Times Nov. 6, 1947: 1+. [Here-in-After “More Than 700.”]
“Over 200 Cases Of Milk Is Pledged For Friendship Train”  Daily Times [Rawlins WY] Nov. 5, 1047 1+.
“Public Urged To Witness Ceremony” Wyoming Eagle Nov. 11, 1947:1+.
“School Kids Donate To Friendship Train” Laramie Boomerang Nov. 5, 1947, 1. [Here-in-After “School Kids.”]
“Scouts Canvass City In Drive For Carload Of Milk” Laramie Boomerang Nov. 6, 1947, 1.
“Today Is Deadline For Wheat Donations To Friendship Train” Wyoming Eagle Nov. 8, 1947: 1+.
”Friendship Movie Boosts Drive For Local Quota Of Canned Milk” Laramie Boomerang Nov. 7, 1947, 1.
Pearson, Drew. “European Friendship Train Report, n.d.   To Friendship Train Committeemen.  Nevada State Library and Archives.  Gov. Vail Pittman’s papers, gov-0146.  [Here-in-After Pittman’s Papers.]
Pearson, Drew. “Washington Merry Go-Round” Intelligencer Journal [Lancaster PA] Nov.19, 1947: 10.
Pearson, Drew. “Washington Merry Go-Round” Tulare Advance Register [Tulare CA] Dec. 22, 1947: 4.
Pearson, Drew. “Washington Merry-Go- Round” Gazette and Daily [York PA] Nov. 7, 1947: 28.  American Baptist Relief, American Friendship Service, Brethren World Service, Church World Service National Catholic Welfare Conference, Congregational Service Committee.

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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