Documentary on Southern Railway 4501 Steamer

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Sep 272016
Southern Railway 4501 Documentary

Every locomotive has a story to tell, whether it’s the passengers it helped carry, the parts of the country its seen or its place in the history of rail travel in North America. Southern Railway’s No. 4501 is no different.

And Then There Was One” is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of Southern Railway #4501 and the men and women who have cared for her. This documentary was produced by a small group of volunteers who had an interest in telling this story to the public. It has been made available completely free on YouTube for anyone to view. This project was accomplished with absolutely zero outside funding.

The 2-8-2 steam locomotive has had a long history, beginning with its creation in 1911. After serving Southern Railways around the Southeastern United States, it was purchased by the Kentucky and Tennessee Railway and renamed No. 12. In 1963 it was retired before being purchased and undergoing a series of restorations over the years as it served as an excursion train.

She is now a part of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

Like & follow the documentary project on Facebook for future announcements regarding special features and a hard copy DVD release at



National Train Day 2016

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Mar 172016

Join members of the local branch of the National Railway Historical Society for National Train Day 2016 with stories, history, model trains and more.

The Best Friend of Charleston - National Train Day 2016

SATURDAY    2 P.M. – 3 P.M.

MAY 14, 2016










Historic Charleston Foundation Trolley Lecture

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Jan 212015

The Rise and Fall of Charleston’s Trolleys, 1859-1938
Guest Speaker: historian Nicholas Butler, Ph.D.

King Street Trolley - Charleston, SCOn February the 23rd, the Historic Charleston Foundation will present a talk on the history of Charleston’s trolleys at the Charleston Museum.

For 77 years after the Civil War, the streets of urban Charleston were lined with iron track for a fleet of streetcars or trolleys. The initial horse-drawn system was electrified in 1897, but the cars and tracks were scrapped in 1938 in favor of “modern” diesel buses. Might this pre-automobile relic offer a solution to transportation woes? Join historian Nic Butler for a look back at the motives behind the creation and the demolition of Charleston’s first mass transit system.

A native of the Palmetto State, Dr. Butler attended the University of South Carolina before completing a Ph.D. at Indiana University. He has worked as archivist of the South Carolina Historical Society, as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston, and as a historical consultant for the City of Charleston. Since 2005 he has been archivist, and now historian, for the Charleston County Public Library.

Free Admission!

Monday, February 23, 6 p.m.
The Charleston Museum Auditorium
360 Meeting Street
Charleston 29401

Two Additional Dates …

Wednesday, March 11, 6pm – 7pm
Charleston County Public Library – Main Library
68 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC 29401

Saturday, March 14, 1pm – 2pm
Charleston County Public Library – Main Library
68 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC 29401


Streamliners At Spencer – Update

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Apr 032014

The N.C. Transportation Museum’s next major railroad event, “Streamliners at Spencer,” will be a four-day festival for lovers of classic streamlined locomotives of the 1930s through the 1950s. These engines will be gathered around the 37-stall Robert Julian Roundhouse turntable for daytime portraits, special operations, nighttime photos and more. Primarily a railroad photography event, “Streamliners at Spencer” is sure to be a rail fan’s delight.

Streamliners at Spencer

Popular in the 1940s and 1950s, more than 8,000 Electro-Motive Division streamliners, or “cab units,” were built with additional locomotives coming from Alco, Baldwin, and Fairbanks-Morse. These locomotives replaced steam power and pulled great passenger trains like the Crescent, the Champion, the Broadway Limited, among others.”They developed a loyal following thanks to their smooth shape, colorful paint schemes, and their look of speed,” said Trains magazine Editor Jim Wrinn, also a N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation vice president. “2014 is a great time to recognize them as the year marks the 75th anniversary of the first such successful diesel freight locomotive – the FT demonstrator of 1939.”

Despite the popularity of these locomotives in their day, Wrinn says, “Today they’re all gone except for a few dozen in museums, on Class I railroads as executive units, and on tourist railroads and short lines as curiosities.” The museum’s own Atlantic Coast Line E3, the Southern Railway E8, and Southern Railway FP7 will serve as the event’s host locomotives.

The museum’s goal will be to bring as many streamlined units together as possible for an event on par with 2012’s Norfolk Southern Heritage Locomotive Family Portrait. Attending locomotives are being confirmed and transported in cooperation with Norfolk Southern Corp. More details will be announced as the summer comes to an end with a great slate of visiting streamliners expected. Those wishing to stay up-to-date should either visit and check the event tab or follow the museum on Facebook at “N.C. Transportation Museum.”

As of March 17 the following locomotives are announced for this event:

  • Atlantic Coast Line E3 No. 501 (Purple & Silver)
  • Southern Railway FP7 No. 6133 (Green & Gold)
  • Southern Railway E8 No. 6900 (Southern Crescent Colors)
  • Norfolk Southern F9 No. 4270 (Tuxedo Paint Scheme)
  • Norfolk Southern F9 No. 4271 (Tuxedo Paint Scheme)
  • Pennsylvania Railroad E8 No. 5711 (Tuscan Red)
  • Pennsylvania Railroad E8 No. 5809 (Tuscan Red)
  • Delaware, Lackawanna & Western F3 No. 663
  • Delaware, Lackawanna & Western F3 No. 664
  • New York, New Haven & Hartford FL9 No. 2019
  • Wabash F7A No. 1189
  • Canadian National FPA4 No. 6789
  • Reading F7A No. 204
  • SOO Line FP7 No. 2500
  • Pan Am Railways FP9 No. PAR-1
  • Wabash E8A No. 1009
  • Iowa Pacific E8A No. 515
  • Potomac Eagle (B&O) F7A No. 722
  • Potomac Eagle (C&O) F7A No. 8016

Additionally, The Norfolk & Western Class J 611 steam passenger locomotive from the Virginia Transportation Museum will be arriving for its restoration.  After leaving the Virginia Museum of Transportation on May 24, the Class J 611 will arrive at the North Carolina Transportation Museum on or about May 29, 2014. She will be the guest of honor at the museum’s Streamliners event. Restoration will begin shortly afterwards. The 37-bay Bob Julian Roundhouse on the grounds of the Museum is one of the last remaining roundhouses in the United States that can handle a locomotive the size of the Class J 611.

The Best Friend Moves In

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Nov 032013

The replica of the Best Friend of Charleston, closing in on a hundred years old itself, returned to Charleston this morning. Its new home, a glass museum on John Street will open to the public early next year. The locomotive was transported in on low bed truck then transferred to breakaway flatbed for movement into the actual building.

There were quite a number of people on hand to watch the unloading of The Best Friend including Mayor Joe Riley of Charleston, representatives of the National Railroad Historical Society, and our own Mary Lehr of the Charleston Railroad Museum.

You can also see a nice little piece by the local TV news –

Best Friend Moves In On Sunday

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Nov 012013

Although the museum won’t open until next year, the Best Friend of Charleston will move in to its new home on John Street on Sunday.

The train is being moved this weekend into a new glass-sided building Sunday morning, November 3rd around 8 AM. The train will be coming in on two flatbed tractor trailers from King Street, the train will be off loaded into a new glass portion of the Camden Shed which is currently being renovated. After placement (which is scheduled to take place between 8 am and 2 pm), the remainder of the Best Friend Museum will be built around the train. The completed Museum and Train will be open for exhibit in early 2014.

Best Friend Museum Building 01 Best Friend Museum Building 02

The Best Friend Train has been on loan to Norfolk Southern for over 5 years. This effort has been an ongoing collaboration between many organizations including Norfolk Southern, Superior Transportation, The History Workshop, Hogan Construction, Ecovest Development, e.e. fava architects, the Charleston Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, and the City of Charleston, including Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., City Council and city staff.

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