'Best Friend' returns to Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C.(WCIV) -- A replica of the United States'first locomotive with a regularly scheduled passenger service made its way to Charleston Sunday morningon the back of two flatbed tractor trailers.'The Best Friend of Charleston' will be displayed in a museum on John Street, whichis set to be completed in 2014. A new glass-enclosed building has been added asan extension to the Camden Towers East Shed building, which is being restored.The museum portion of the building will be added once the train is installed.

Many people said seeing the replica brings back childhoodmemories.

"I think I'm just a big kid when it come to trains," he said"I remember as a child having trains on Christmas and things like that, Ijust find it fascinating."The train made its first trip to Charlestonon Christmas Day in 1830.{}In 1827, Charleston merchants encouraged thestate legislature to charter the South CarolinaCanal and Railroad Company{} toinvestigate the feasibility of connecting Charlestonwith inland markets by railroad. The city was experiencing an economic recessionas settlements expanded inland and westward.The train ran along six miles of wood and metal rails. The train junction satat State and Dorchester roads.The railroad is credited with bringing economic prosperity back to Charleston.

Six months after the train first came to Charleston,a fireman caused an explosion that killed him and destroyed much of the BestFriend.{}A replica was built in 1928 in honor of the South Carolina Canaland Railroad Company's 100th anniversary.{}The Southern Railroad Company restored the replica in 1970 and in 1993, Norfolk Southern{}donated it to Charleston.

In 2007, Norfolk Southern restored the trainonce more and displayed it in the corporate office in Atlanta. The replica had been on loan to thecompany for more than five years.

Now, the 'Best Friend' is in Charleston to stay.

"Charlestonis a city of many historical firsts, and this is one of them," said Mayor JoeRiley. "This is it's permanent place. It will never leave here and it willalways be a value to the city's history."

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