Monday, July 2, 2007

Best Friend of Charleston - July 2, 2007

The Best Friend, also called The Best Friend of Charleston, was a pioneering locomotive built by the West Point Foundry in New York in 1830 for the South Carolina Railroad, which ran from Charleston to Hamburg. It pulled a passenger train on January 15, 1831.

The West Point Foundry assembled or built most of the early locomotives in the United States. Most early locomotives were light and lightly built, so they did not last for long. The Best Friend did not last as long as some. On June 17, 1831, the fireman, tired of the hiss of steam, held down the safety valve. The explosion caused several injuries and the fireman died two days later.

The Best Friend was rebuilt, probably with a vertical boiler, and renamed the Phoenix. It ran for many years. The South Carolina Railroad put a car of cotton bales behind its locomotives for some years to quiet the fears of the

Note the inclined cylinders at the front of the locomotive, and the engineer standing proudly.

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