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Charleston in Charleston County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

The Best Friend of Charleston

 
 
The Best Friend of Charleston Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, January 2011
1. The Best Friend of Charleston Marker
Inscription. Horatio Allen was the chief engineer for the South Carolina Canal & Rail Road Company. He convinced the owners to use steam instead of horses to power their first locomotive, noting, "there was no reason to believe that the breed of horses would be materially improved, but that the present breed of locomotives was to furnish a power of which no one knew its limit." The first commercially-built American steam locomotive, the Best Friend of Charleston, was the first train to offer regular passenger service. She made her first six-mile trip on December 25, 1830. Sadly, disaster struck in June, 1831, when her boiler exploded.

The Best Friend was built at the West Point Foundry in New York. She traveled to Charleston aboard the ship Niagara and was delievered to the machine shops of Dotterer & Eason. Nicholas Darrell, the first engineer of the Best Friend was repaired and renamed The Phoenix. Nicholas Darrell continued to work for SCC&RR as engineer of the West Point and later as engineer of the South Carolina, the first eight wheeled engine designed by Horatio Allen.

In 1928, a replica of the Best Friend was built from the original blueprints to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the SCC&RR. The Best Friend was donated to the City of Charleston
The Best Friend of Charleston Marker, image. Click for full size.
South Carolina Library, USC
2. The Best Friend of Charleston Marker,
Views of the first replica of the Best Friend built in 1928. The large photo was taken in Charleston in the 1930s.
by Norfolk Southern in 1993.

"The one hundred and forty-one persons flew on the wings of wind at the speed of fifteen to twenty-five miles per hour, annihilating time and space ... leaving all the world behind."
* Charleston Courier December 29, 1850 *
 
Location. 32° 47.334′ N, 79° 56.236′ W. Marker is in Charleston, South Carolina, in Charleston County. Marker is on John Street, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Located between King and Meeting Streets, in the Camden Depot Courtyard. Marker is in this post office area: Charleston SC 29403, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Bound For Glory (here, next to this marker); Building a Nation (here, next to this marker); The Railroad Comes To Charleston (here, next to this marker); Passengers and Products (within shouting distance of this marker); Camden Depot (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); William Aiken House (about 400 feet away); The Civil War Submarine, H.L. Hunley (about 500 feet away); The Charleston Museum's Joseph Manigault House (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Charleston.
 
Regarding The Best Friend of Charleston. • 30 mph top speed and 12 mph average speed with the cars
The Best Friend of Charleston Marker, on left, in the Camden Depot Courtyard image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, January 2011
3. The Best Friend of Charleston Marker, on left, in the Camden Depot Courtyard
loaded
• 6 horsepower engine
• 3.75 tons weight w/o wood and water
• $10 train ticket cost and about 9 hours to ride from Charleston to Augusta
• Two full size replicas exist today: one on display at the SC State Museum in Columbia and one currently on loan to Norfolk Southern for display in their Atlanta headquarters
••On June 17, 1831, only 6 months after its launch, the Best Friend of Charleston made history again. Word has it an inexperienced fireman became annoyed with the loud hissing steam escaping from the safety valve. He pressed down the valve and few moments later an explosion rocked the locomotive killing him, scalding the engineer and scattering the boiler all over the country side. The “Best Friend of Charleston” was destroyed but not finished…remains from the locomotive were used to built the “Phoenix” that rode the South Carolina tracks for many years to come.
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. more about The Best Friend of Charleston
 
Also see . . .
1. Charleston Chapter, National Railway Historical Society. "Best Friend of Charleston" (Submitted on February 3, 2011, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.) 

2. Horatio Allen. from Wikipedia. ... From 1829 to 1834 he was the chief engineer
The Best Friend of Charleston image. Click for full size.
By SC State Museum, April 16, 2008
4. The Best Friend of Charleston
On June 17, 1831, only 6 months after its launch, the Best Friend of Charleston made history again. Word has it an inexperienced fireman became annoyed with the loud hissing stem escaping from the safety valve. He pressed down the valve and few moments later an explosion rocked the locomotive killing him, scalding the engineer and scattering the boiler all over the country side. The “Best Friend of Charleston” was destroyed but not finished…remains from the locomotive were used to built the “Phoenix” that rode the South Carolina tracks for many years to come.
of the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company, at that time the longest railway in the world .... (Submitted on February 4, 2011, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.) 
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars
 
Markers in the Old Railyard image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain
5. Markers in the Old Railyard
The Best Friend reproduction image. Click for full size.
By (Laurel Leader-Call Staff Photo By Debbie Hawley)
6. The Best Friend reproduction
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 3, 2011, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 835 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on February 4, 2011, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   5. submitted on September 25, 2011, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   6. submitted on July 29, 2008, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.
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