The locomotive made its initial run on the first six miles of track of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company. Chartered in 1827, the same year that the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was incorporated, the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company steamed out of Charleston. The new line was designed to make Charleston competitive with Savannah, Georgia, for the cotton trade.
Over the next three years the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company became, for a time, the world’s longest railway line. The company was a predecessor of J. P. Morgan’s Southern Railway Company, which grew out of the realignment of southern railways following the Civil War.
This "Best Friend" was built in the late 1920's for the centennial of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company.
According to a report in the City Gazette, November 22, 1821 issue, a railroad was suggested to run from Charleston to Hamburg and a branch on to Columbia. Horatio Allen (1802-1890) was the chief engineer for The South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company from 1829 – 1835. (This line is now a part of the Southern Railway System.) On December 19, 1827, The South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company was chartered. Work began, January 9, 1830, on the line to Branchville, SC which was 62 miles from Charleston and it was opened in November, 1832. The line to Hamburg (adjacent to Augusta, GA) was opened on October 1, 1833. The line was now the longest continuous railroad in the world, 136 miles in length, and first to carry the US mail. (Derrick 1930, 10) This route took passengers on the 11 ½ hour trip with 7 stops for $6.75 one way. (Edgar 1998, 283)
The “Best Friend” had a brief, but historic, life. It was completed and put into regular service on December 25, 1830. On June 17, 1831, three men were injured in an explosion. A tied down safety valve due to the noise of the steam escaping, caused the boiler to blow up. Parts of the “Best Friend” were used in construction of the “Phoenix.” The “Best Friend” having been designed by C.E. Detmold, chief engineer was Horatio Allen, who early on advocated steam power locomotion and Nicholas W. Darrell became the first railway engineer. Nicholas W. Darrell died in 1869 after running engines for many years and having the distinction of being the first man to open the throttle on the “Best Friend.” The “Best Friend of Charleston” was modeled after its forerunner “Best Friend” and was known as the first locomotive built in the United States and used in service of transportation. (Southern Railway System, 1)
The "Stourbridge Lion," in 1829 was the first locomotive to run on tracks in America.
The "Best Friend of Charleston," in 1830 was the first locomotive to pull a train in America, carrying ca. forty-five passengers at speeds up to 21 mph.
The "John Bull," first ran in 1831 and today exists as the oldest complete engine preserved in the United States.
The "Brother Jonathan," was built in 1832 and reigned for many years as the world's fastest locomotive, credited with speeds up to 60 mph.
The "Gowan and Marx," was built in 1939 and so powerful it could haul forty times its own weight.
and that is the origin of steam locomotives in the USA