Lt. Georges Dubois Veterans Museum
The newest addition to Woonsocketís historic Market Square is the Lt. Georges Dubois Veterans Museum. Located at the Museum of Work and Culture, the Lt. Georges Dubois Veterans Museum tells the story of Rhode Islandís Merci Train boxcar and the veterans who once rode it.
The recently restored Rhode Island Merci Train boxcar is one of 49 boxcars that were filled with gifts by the people of France and sent to the people of the United States in appreciation for their help in World War II. In 1949, one car was given to each of the 48 states, and one was shared by the District of Columbia and the Territory of Hawaii. The boxcars were originally used to transport troops in World War I and World War II and became known as Forty & Eights for their ability to carry forty men or eight horses. World War I soldier Georges Dubois, for whom this museum is named, probably rode in one of these cars.
In honor of its French heritage, Rhode Islandís Merci Train boxcar began its tour of Rhode Island at Woonsocketís Providence & Worcester Railroad Depot in 1949. After the tour, it fell into obscurity and disrepair until 1998 when area veterans Alphonse Auclair and Jacques Staelen recovered the boxcar for use in the museum. In 1999, fifty years after it began its tour of Rhode Island in Woonsocket, the boxcar was moved to the Museum of Work & Culture and extensive restoration began. Today, the restored boxcar looks much like it did when it originally arrived in Woonsocket in 1949.
Inside, the museum is painted to look like a French train station. Visitors will feel the train moving along the track as they hear stories from the veterans who rode it. Original gifts from the train, including a wedding dress and French Army saber, are displayed along with uniforms from World War I and World War II. Also displayed are the names of all Woonsocket soldiers killed in the line of duty including 26 soldiers from the Civil War, 41 soldiers from World War I and 178 soldiers from World War II.
In the Museum Store, you will find unique gifts, books, crafts and clothing. You will also find brochures, guidebooks and other information for visitors to the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. You can also visit the Museum of Work and Culture.
The Museum of Work and Culture
The phone number is (401)769-WORK or (401)769-9675. Hours are 9:30 am to 4 pm on weekdays, 10 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and 1 pm to 4 pm on Sundays. Information on the other 48 Merci Train boxcars is available on the Merci Train website.