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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Best Friend of Charleston

As mentioned last week, here is a post card with the “Best Friend of Charleston” on the front. The following is from Wikipedia:

The locomotive was built for the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company by the West Point Foundry of New York in 1830. Disassembled for shipment by boat to Charleston, SC, it arrived in October of that year and was unofficially named the Best Friend of Charleston. After its inaugural run on Christmas Day, the Best Friend was used in regular passenger service along a six mile demonstration route in Charleston. For the time, this locomotive was considered one of the fastest modes of transport available, taking its passengers "on the wings of wind at the speed of fifteen to twenty-five miles per hour. The only mode of travel that was any faster was by an experienced horse and rider.
On June 17, 1831, the Best Friend earned a rather grisly first — it became the first locomotive in the US to suffer a boiler explosion, seriously injuring the engine's crew. The explosion is said to have been caused by the fireman tying down the steam pressure release valve; he had tired of listening to it whistle, so to stop the noise he closed the valve permanently (another account has the fireman placing a stout piece of lumber on the safety valve and sitting on it). The blocked valve caused the pressure within the boiler to exceed its capacity, and it exploded. The resulting blast was said to have hurled metal fragments over a wide area and killed the fireman.

This post card was published by the Audio Visual Designs. The indication of this is the strip that separates the address side from the message side of the post card. Their name and address forms that line. The company still exists today. The following is an excerpt from their website at

Founded in 1964 by the late Carl H. Sturner, Audio-Visual Designs has been a leader in providing high quality railroad images products for over 4 decades. The business was originally located in Earlton, NY. The name was derived by the products sold at the time – audio soundtracks of trains well as visual items (post cards, books, & calendars). The first All Pennsy Calendar was published in 1966 and for many years used exclusively the photos of Don Wood, a long time friend of Carl's. In the late 80's, Carl started showcasing other photographer's work as well. Railroad Christmas cards were added to the line of products early on and with a few exceptions have featured real photos of trains in action. Three railroad books have been published by Audio-Visual Designs: I Remember Pennsy, Locomotives in My Life, and The Unique New York and Long Branch: all of which were projects worked on by Carl and Mr. Wood. Audio-Visual Designs has also published books for other non-railroad related organizations.
By the time of his untimely passing in 1995, Carl had grown Audio-Visual Designs into an established icon in the railfan community - providing an enjoyable aspect of both the railfanning and model railroading hobbies. We serve many excursion railroads, museums, and hobby shops with stock post card images, greeting cards, custom products and the All Pennsy Calendar.
In 1997, the business was purchased by us (Joe & Colleen Suo) and moved to the present Herkimer, NY location.
This post card belongs to the modern era of Poly-Chrome post cards.

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