This open letter was published in the May 7, 2011 issue of the Charleston Post & Courier. A dire situation indeed, and one we need to get moving on quickly.
Charleston, what a wonderful city. What a wonderful past.
But how about Charleston’s rich history and heritage as the first city in America to use regularly scheduled train travel to move forward in surviving a slump in its economy in 1830? Are we going to lose our hold on the only tangible evidence of Charleston’s solution to a failing economy?
What are the city’s plans for the replica of the Best Friend of Charleston?
Are we going to have her returned to Charleston or are we going to allow her to remain in Atlanta?
If the City of Charleston does not get busy and use the $250,000 being paid to it by Norfolk Southern to assist in building a place to display our train permanently in the city for which it is named, then the Best Friend will remain in Atlanta at the end of Norfolk Southern’s loan period that expires in July 2012.
It will be returned to the city at Norfolk Southern’s expense only if the city has a permanent display area ready by 2012.
Are we going to allow this mistake to happen? Well, if the Charleston Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society has any say in what happens, we will make sure our train finds its way back home, to Charleston. We have been in contact with the city but have found it difficult to track any plans that are being made. The train cannot go back into the Engine House from whence she came because that structure now belongs to the Children’s Museum.
Charleston, we need some help. We need to know what the city proposes to do to have the train returned home. Only a little over a year remains for the city to make plans and execute them.
Someone, everyone, get on board! Let’s ask the city to be informative and forthcoming with their plans.
Today is National Train Day, and we will be celebrating at the Best Friend of Charleston Railway Museum, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., at the Citadel Mall.
Come visit us and support us in our journey to bring our train home to Charleston where she belongs.
President, Charleston Chapter
National Railway Historical Society