There is something special about the small towns in the United States of America. Sadly, small towns are not visited as often as the big cities and beach towns, but many of the small towns have something special. Many small towns have memorials to those who have served in the military. One of them is the town of Welch in the southern region of the U.S. state of West Virginia. Although many veterans memorials are in the town center, the memorial in Welch is outside the town where all of the main routes meet. Just like many other memorials dedicated to the military, it makes you reflect and think of those who gave their lives so that we could live ours. If you are in the area of Welch, West Virginia, take the time to stop at the veterans memorial.
Some of you are saying, “I love to see the memorials that honor the veterans of the military. They made great sacrifices for us, but what does this have to do with the railroad?”
Well, it is a good question. The railroad played a role in many wars to include the American Civil War, World War I, and World War II. As for the town of Welch, although the railroad does pass on the west side with a small spur to a warehouse, the town is not a railroad town and does not have much in the history of the railroad.
To answer the question, let us go back in time.
World War II featured many battles that involved the United States of America. One of the most significant to place on June 6, 1944. The United States, Great Britain, and other nations landed on a beach in the French province of Normandy. The German armies had taken over much of France, and the United States, Great Britain, and other nations joined forces came to force them out. It is to date the largest invasion in the history of the world. Although the Germans had the height advantage and were able to kill many men on the beach, they were eventually defeated, and the German army lost control of France surrendering a year later. As a thank you, a train, known as ‘The Merci Train’ or ‘The French Gratitude Train’ that consisted of forty-nine ‘Merci Cars’, boxcars made of wood that was built for each U.S. state (except Alaska) that was filled what was known as ‘gifts of gratitude’, was brought to New York City, and each car was taken to each state. Most of the Merci Cars (‘merci’ is thanks in French) still remain on display to this day.
What is special about the Veterans Memorial in Welch, West Virginia? Not only does it honor the war veterans, but it is also where you will find the Merci Car for the state of West Virginia. Now you see what makes this memorial special.
The Veterans Memorial in Welch, West Virginia is located at the intersection of U.S. Route 52, West Virginia Route 16, and West Virginia Route 103. There is a small parking area on Route 16.