Table of Contents; Page 2; Page 5; Index
While these things were being accomplished in England, the fact must be noted that agitation in favor of railroad building in America was being carried on with zeal and success. Much of the machinery for operating the American railroads was being designed and built by American engineers, so it is quite generally believed that railroad and locomotive building in America would not have been very much delayed had there never been a Watt or a Stephenson.
The first railroad opened to general traffic was the Baltimore & Ohio, which was chartered in 1827, a portion being opened for business in 1830. About the same time, the South Carolina Road was built. The board of directors of this road were concerned with what kind of power to use, namely, horse-power or steam engines. After much deliberation, it was finally decided to use a steam-propelled locomotive.
The history of this period is interesting. The first steam locomotive built in America was the Best Friend of Charleston, illustrated in Fig. 3. One year previous to the building of this locomotive, an English locomotive called Stourbridge Lion was imported by the Delaware-Hudson Canal Co. It was tried near Homesdale. A celebrated American engineer by the name of Horatio Allen, made a number of trial trips on this locomotive and pronounced it too heavy for the American roadbeds and bridges; so it was that the Best Friend of Charleston, an American locomotive constructed in 1830, gave the first successful service in America. The Best Friend of Charleston was a four-wheeled engine having two inclined cylinders. The wheels were constructed of iron hubs with wooden spokes and wooden fellows, having iron tires shrunk on in the usual way. A vertical boiler was employed and rested upon an extension of the frame which was placed between the four wheels. The cylinders, two in number, were each 6 inches in diameter and had a common stroke of 16 inches. The wheels were 4½ feet in diameter. The total weight of the locomotive was about 10,000 pounds. Assuming power by present methods, it would develop about 12 horse-power while running at a speed of 20 miles per hour and using a steam pressure of 50 pounds.