The original Best Friend of Charleston train made its first trip on Christmas Day in 1830.
The Best Friend was the first engine built entirely in the United States
– at West Point Foundry in New York –
and was the first train to carry the U.S. Mail and the US Military.
Six months later, the Best Friend’s boiler exploded, destroying the engine.
Southern Railway had the Best Friend Replica built in 1928, from the original blueprints, to recognize the S.C. Canal and Rail Road Co.’s 100th anniversary. The company was chartered in 1828 by the Legislature to explore connecting Charleston with inland markets via rail.
The replica was donated to the City of Charleston by Norfolk Southern in 1971.
Norfolk Southern borrowed the replica in December 2008 and it was returned to the city after six years on loan to Norfolk Southern headquarters in Atlanta where they had displayed it in their lobby until October 2014.