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Merci Box Car.

Merci Box Car

Field review by the editors.

Huron, South Dakota

At the turn of the 20th century the South Dakota cities of Huron and Pierre battled each other to become the state capital. Pierre eventually won, getting all the governors. Huron eventually got the Merci Box Car.

The box car, filled with French gifts, was one of dozens sent to America by France in 1948 in gratitude for USA help after World War II. Every state in the U.S. got one, and South Dakota's was destined for permanent display in the state capital -- Pierre. Its arrival in February 1948, however, ran into a South Dakota blizzard. The train tracks were blocked, and the box car only got as far as Huron. It's been sitting there ever since.

When the box car was opened many of the gifts went to the state museum (in Pierre), but the rest were auctioned off to buy a whirlpool bath for the state veterans' hospital. The Dakotaland Museum, across the street from the box car, later acquired a few of the gifts for display, including a French poodle made of yarn, a French language edition of the children's book Babar the elephant, and a toy version of the box car.

Merci Box Car

895 3rd St. SW, Huron, SD
West of downtown. From SD-37/Dakota Ave. turn west at the stoplight onto 3rd St. Drive about one mile. After you cross the train tracks drive a quarter-mile. The green box car will be on the right, beneath an outdoor awning.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Dakotaland MuseumDakotaland Museum, Huron, SD - < 1 mi.
White Buffalo StatueWhite Buffalo Statue, Huron, SD - 1 mi.
World's Largest PheasantWorld's Largest Pheasant, Huron, SD - 2 mi.
In the region:
Pheasant Statue at Pheasant Capital of the World, Redfield, SD - 38 mi.

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