The “Best Friend” Comes A-Flying In !
Listen my children and you shall hear . . .
of the Christmas ride from far to near . . .
With steam a-flowing and children a-glowing . . .
the train was going without us knowing . . .
It would blow to bits . . . all in its wake . . .
with a shudder, a sputter, a final quake . . .
It lay on its side, hiccupping and give-upping . . .
but our “Best Friend” rose, a “Phoenix” upping !
© m. lehr 2005
| . . . dedicated to the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
The precious poem, featured below,
was penciled and stenciled and then made to flow!
To six-year old Krista, Uncle Jack was a poet,
but she, it seemed, was the only one to know it !
A crowd of folks had gathered by the railroad right of way.
was a train of little coaches and the engine called, “Best Friend.”
The boiler like a bottle was steaming like it should.
All the babies started squalling and the dogs began to bark.In a car was Ezra Miller, a man of many skills.
It was he who planned the engine and his money paid the bills.By his side sat Mr. Allen who marked where to lay the rails
through the swamps and woodlands and along old Indian trails.Also there was William Aiken, the railroad President.
He worked to bring in lots of money and took care how it was spent.With them was Herr Detmold, who enjoyed the speedy ride.
He had also built a rail car, but it had a horse inside.Up north were other engines. They could not pull their share.
Our train ran by a schedule and you had to pay your fare.
While others started railroads and tried both horse and sail,
the “Best Friend” was entrusted to haul the U. S. mail.
©Captain J. Le Cato 1993
The illustration below…while so appropo…
was drawn for a book…so why don’t ya look?
It’ll take but a minute…you’ll like what’s in it .
* reproduced by permission of John Kollock and G. Walton Williams from their book, The Best Friend
* book available for a $10 donation to the Charleston Chapter – NRHS
The book, The Best Friend,
tells of the adventures of the little train, from its first trip on Christmas Day 1830 to its loud demise 6 months later. Though short lived, the train lives on forever as a beautiful replica built in 1928 by Southern RR, and its beautiful red and green coat of paint shines brightly in the lobby of Norfolk Southern’s Atlanta Headquarters where it is on temporary loan. When it is finally placed in its permanent home beside the Charleston Visitor Center, it will greet visitors from behind its glass enclosure to let everyone know that because of the progressive thinking of our forefathers, Charleston had:
- the first train in America with regularly scheduled passenger service
- the first train built “for sale” in America
- the first steam railroad to haul freight
- the first train to carry the U. S. mail
- the first steam railroad to have banked curves
- the first long distance steam railroad in the World
- the first steam railroad to have a branch (Branchville, SC)
Ridin’ the Rails
By Johnny Cash
She’s the Best Friend of Charleston.
Neither horse nor breathin’ man.
She’s a rock of rollin’ engine.
Can she run, sir?
Yes, she can.
She’s a horseless hunk of screamin’, steamin’,
If you’ve nerve to get aboard her
there’s a thrill you’re gonna feel.
Tip your hat and bow down to her,
Christen her upon the way.
She’s the Best Friend of Charleston.
It’s her maiden run today.
|RAILROADY ANNA’S LAMENT
I’m not allowed to run the train,
(A Train Trip Where Not A Thing Was Wrong)
“I’ve written many letters to railroads in my time
To find fault with their schedules, the tasteless food and grime;
But since I’ve traveled ‘Southern’ I sing a different song.
I finally had a train trip where not a thing was wrong!
Our comfortable compartment had ash trays clean as new
Our window pane, like crystal. gave us a pleasant view.
The seats were all upholstered in my favorite shade of green.
The porter was most helpful, and his uniform was clean!
Efficiently the waiter served our delicious meal
On spotless table linen set with flowers for appeal.
We engaged in conversation with a pleasant man indeed,
Who was one of your employees. The evening passed with speed.
And to top off this saga in my amateurish rhyme,
The train raced in toward Newark, and it arrived on time!”
while aboard the Southern Crescent
THE RAILWAY TRAIN
And lick the valleys up.
And stop to feed itself a tanks;
And then, prodigious, step
And, supercilious, peer
In shanties by the side of roads;
And then a quarry pare
To fit its sides, and crawl between.
Complaining all the while
In horrid, hooting stanza;
Then chase itself downhill
And neigh like Boanerges;
Then punctual as a star,
Stop – docile and omnipotent –
At its own stable door.