Horatio Allen was the chief engineer for the South Carolina Canal & Rail Road Company. He convinced the owners to use steam instead of horses to power their first locomotive, noting, "there was no reason to believe that the breed of horses would be materially improved, but that the present breed of locomotives was to furnish a power of which no one knew its limit." The first commercially-built American steam locomotive, the Best Friend of Charleston, was the first train to offer regular passenger service. She made her first six-mile trip on December 25, 1830. Sadly, disaster struck in June, 1831, when her boiler exploded.
The Best Friend was built at the West Point Foundry in New York. She traveled to Charleston aboard the ship Niagara and was delievered to the machine shops of Dotterer & Eason. Nicholas Darrell, the first engineer of the Best Friend was repaired and renamed The Phoenix. Nicholas Darrell continued to work for SCC&RR as engineer of the West Point and later as engineer of the South Carolina, the first eight wheeled engine designed by Horatio Allen.
In 1928, a replica of the Best Friend was built from the original blueprints to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the SCC&RR. The Best Friend was donated to the City of Charleston by Norfolk Southern in 1993.
"The one hundred and forty-one persons flew on the wings of wind at the speed of fifteen to twenty-five miles per hour, annihilating time and space ... leaving all the world behind."
* Charleston Courier December 29, 1850 *