'Best Friend' returns to Charleston - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

'Best Friend' returns to Charleston

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A replica of the United States' first locomotive with a regularly scheduled passenger service made its way to Charleston Sunday morning on the back of two flatbed tractor trailers.

'The Best Friend of Charleston' will be displayed in a museum on John Street, which is set to be completed in 2014. A new glass-enclosed building has been added as an 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 childhood memories.

"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, I just find it fascinating."

The train made its first trip to Charleston on Christmas Day in 1830. 

In 1827, Charleston merchants encouraged the state legislature to charter the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company  to investigate the feasibility of connecting Charleston with inland markets by railroad. The city was experiencing an economic recession as settlements expanded inland and westward.

The train ran along six miles of wood and metal rails. The train junction sat at 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 Best Friend. 

A replica was built in 1928 in honor of the South Carolina Canal and 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 train once more and displayed it in the corporate office in Atlanta. The replica had been on loan to the company for more than five years.

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

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

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