Talk of Coast to Update Passenger Rail Route

 News, Public Transportation  Comments Off on Talk of Coast to Update Passenger Rail Route
Oct 052015

According to the Post & Courier, the success of the State Ports Authority’s Inland Port has a group in the Upstate thinking about using the Charleston-to-Greer rail route for passenger service.

The South Carolina Passenger Rail Consortium is floating the idea of having twice-daily passenger service between the two cities, according to a report last week in The Greenville News.

Norfolk Southern passenger train

A vintage Norfolk Southern passenger train arrives at the State Ports Authority’s Inland Port near Greer in early 2014 as part of a special event.

“We believe we can fill the coaches with vacationers and business travelers,” Frank Ezell, founder of the consortium, told the newspaper.

Best Friend Moves In On Sunday

 History and Preservation, News  Comments Off on Best Friend Moves In On Sunday
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.

Best Friend of Charleston Returns Home

 History and Preservation  Comments Off on Best Friend of Charleston Returns Home
Oct 292013

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.

Best Friend of Charleston Arrives in Summerville

Best Friend of Charleston Returns Via Summerville

 Events, History and Preservation  Comments Off on Best Friend of Charleston Returns Via Summerville
Oct 042013

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.

Best Friend of Charleston on Wall Street

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.

Best Friend Locomotive to Return to Charleston

 News  Comments Off on Best Friend Locomotive to Return to Charleston
Mar 282013

The Best Friend of Charleston, a scale replica of an 1830s locomotive that briefly served the city, will return at long last in September after six years on loan to Norfolk Southern headquarters in Atlanta.

Best Friend of Charleston PostcardWhen it does come back, the engine which is nearly 100 years old itself will head for a new glass-enclosed display museum near Ann and John streets downtown, in an area known as the East Shed.

The site will feature more than 3,500-square-feet of museum space. The engine also will be lit up at night for after-hours viewing.

“It may be that the building may not be able to be completed until the train comes in,” said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley in reference to the physical effort required to move the machinery into place.

The city’s $1 million investment will go for the museum, bathrooms and renovation of some of the East Shed area.

The original Best Friend became the first locomotive line to offer regularly scheduled commercial passenger service by traveling a six-mile path of track from downtown to what today is near Dorchester Road.

The original engine arrived here by ship in 1830 in pieces, from the West Point Foundry in New York. Its inaugural trip came on Christmas Day, carrying 141 passengers. Six months later the locomotive was lost to a boiler accident.

The current replica was built in the 1920s from the original plans. It was meant to be a focal part in the 100th anniversary of the “South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company.” Southern Railway then took the replica on trips across the country, according to the train’s website.

In 1993, Norfolk Southern Railroad donated the Best Friend to the city of Charleston, where it went on display.

In 2007 the engine was moved to Atlanta to become part of a display inside the company’s downtown office building. In exchange, Norfolk Southern paid the city $250,000 and did a restoration.

Riley said the museum will add to the block’s draw, along with the nearby Visitor’s Center and Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry.

Mary Lehr, who operates a museum dedicated to the Best Friend at Citadel Mall, said she is looking forward to the return, slated for around Sept. 15.

Impasse Hit Between State and North Charleston

 News  Comments Off on Impasse Hit Between State and North Charleston
Sep 172012

According to the Post & Courier, talks between the state and the city of North Charleston about how to provide rail service to a future shipping terminal on the former Navy base have gone off track.

The breakdown raises the likelihood of a costly court fight early next year that could have profound repercussions for the state’s budget and the quality of life in its third-largest city.

For more on this story, please check out the Post & Courier’s article.

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