The Best Friend of Charleston Railway Museum
2070 Sam Rittenberg Drive
In the 1820's, the bustling seaport of Charleston experienced an alarming economic recession as settlements expanded inland and westward. With the decrease in commerce, Charleston merchants began aggressively investigating avenues to revitalize the floundering economy. At this time, Europeans were just beginning to experiment with the concept of a "Rail Road;" a new means of transportation that employed a "locomotive" propelled along rails by steam power.
In 1827 Charleston merchants persuaded the state legislature to charter the "South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company" to investigate the feasibility of a rail road system connecting Charleston with inland markets and a canal between the Ashley and Savannah Rivers to divert from the Savannah River to Charleston.
In 1830 the engine arrived by packet ship from the West Point Foundry in New York. It was assembled and tested. Dubbed "Best Friend of Charleston" by eager merchants, the train made its premier trip on Christmas Day 1830, becoming the first steam locomotive in the US to establish regularly scheduled passenger service. It ran along six miles of wood and metal rails terminating near the junction of State and Dorchester Roads.