The Best Friend pulled up by the tracks in Summerville on Monday, to the carnival atmosphere of a big crowd, a steel band and vendors selling popcorn and peanuts. People oohed and cheered, their phones snapping photos and shooting videos. Unfortunately the train pulled up on trucks instead of via the rails themselves, but still. The replica has been in Atlanta for the past few years as an exhibit in the office of Norfolk Southern, but now it is returning home. See the full story at the Post & Courier.
A piece of locomotive history is returning to Charleston after it makes a stop in Summerville. The train is named ‘The Best Friend of Charleston,’ and it is currently in Atlanta outside the headquarters for Norfolk Southern.
The announcement of the train’s return came on Thursday, which was proclaimed Best Friend Day in Summerville.
Chris Ohm, the executive director of the Summerville-Dorchester Museum, said the railroad has always been important to Summerville and the Best Friend helped to develop the area around the train stop. He said it took people and materials back and forth from Charleston.
The Best Friend of Charleston was not only the first locomotive built in entirely in America to be put in regular service, its route was the first regularly scheduled route within the US. Additionally, although unfortunately, the explosion that destroyed the original Best Friend is probably the first major, and fatal, train accident within the US.
The replica, built in the 1920s, is owned by the city of Charleston. It’s being returned to the city after six years on loan to Norfolk Southern headquarters in Atlanta. It will be housed in a new, glass-enclosed display museum near Ann and John streets downtown, in an area known as the East Shed.
The locomotive, tender and two coaches, all built in 1928 to specifications of the original equipment, are on loan from the city of Charleston, S.C., for five years. The original Best Friend made its inaugural run Christmas Day 1830. The replica was built to celebrate the centennial of the South Carolina Canal & Rail Road, one of Norfolk Southern’s earliest predecessor companies, which operated the original Best Friend. Railroaders at Norfolk Southern’s Chattanooga Diesel Shop refurbished the replica prior to its Atlanta arrival.
The return — ironically by truck — has been scheduled for Oct. 28, said Chris Ohm, Summerville-Dorchester Museum director. The locomotive, wrapped in plastic for transport, will be unwrapped in the town after arriving about noon.
It will be displayed at a museum in Charleston that is currently under construction.
Not directly a railroad structure, but the produce shed at the intersection of Wappoo Road and Hwy 17 West Ashley in Charleston, SC lay along the SAL line and is one of the last of its kind. That part of the line is now a walking trail. It I am not mistaken, the Boll Weevil used to stop right about there to pick up and drop off passengers as well. This past week destruction of it began but was quickly halted by a local preservationist. It seems the owner was well with his rights, but that final outcome is still to be decided.
I would hate to see this shed torn down – of course partially because i grew up just down the road from it. Coincidentally I had take a few quick photos of it a few days before as I drop to work.
An article on the shed and the state of its destruction is here – http://westof.net/heavy-meddle/
According to the Charleston Post & Courier, two landmark but neglected Charleston trolley cars that had been attacked by vandals and the elements are getting a new life in Charlotte. The owners of the cars, former Magnolia Development, have given the pair to a group in the Queen City which plans to restore them for possible active use or historical display.
While it is unfortunate that nothing could be done to keep and restore the cars here in Charleston, at least they are going to be saved. For a city that prides itself so much on history and historic preservation, it really shames me how little we do in some areas.
Read the full article at The Post & Courier.
A fantastic postcard with and image of a trolley rolling along Rutledge Avenue towards the north end. I am always on the lookout for images of trolleys and early rail movement in Charleston, and I cam across this one for the first time a couple of days ago. I love both the trolley itself and the general atmosphere of the neighborhood along Rutledge. If you have images you would like to share, please let me know!
The Post and Courier today has an article on the continuing struggle to bring the replica of the Best Friend of Charleston back to a respectable home. “The next big trip of the Best Friend (actually a replica of the original locomotive) seems to be approaching even more slowly — the way weeks pass for children awaiting Christmas. It will be the train’s trip home to Charleston from Atlanta where it has spent the last five years on display in the lobby of Norfolk Southern’s headquarters.
Colleen Carducci, director of real estate management for the city of Charleston, says she is confident that by the end of 2012 the Best Friend will be displayed on John Street in a new glass structure. The city is in negotiations with a builder.
If things go well, the building will connect via a conference room to an existing railroad shed, which will be renovated to accommodate a commercial venture — likely a family-style restaurant.
But if the city is unable to find a private partner to take on the East Shed project, it will proceed with the glass structure alone.”
We really need to make sure that adjoining space is used for a related project like a full rail museum or historical transportation retrospective and planning center.