South Carolina tourist railroads you must visit include a restored depot next to multiple Class I railroads to a museum with a variety of exhibits and displays in the Palmetto State. Here’s our list of must-see tourist railroads, museums, and displays — for almost every region in South Carolina.
The Best Friend Train Museum
Built at West Point Foundry in New York for passenger service, the original Best Friend of Charleston steam locomotive made its first trip on Christmas 1830. Six months later, the Best Friend’s boiler exploded, destroying the engine. Southern Railway built a Best Friend replica in 1928, from the original blueprints, to recognize the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Co.’s 100th anniversary. The replica was donated to the City of Charleston by Southern in 1971, although it was displayed at the Norfolk Southern office in Atlanta from 2008 to 2014 before returning to Charleston. Displayed indoors, the locomotive is surrounded by various artifacts and photos. The museum is free and open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on major holidays.
Location: 23 Ann Street, Charleston
Hub City Railroad Museum
Maintained and operated by the Carolina Railroad Heritage Association, the Hub City Railroad Museum is located in a former Southern Railway depot. The museum highlights the history of Spartanburg’s railroads, including the Southern Railway, Clinchfield, and Piedmont & Northern, as well as two major industries of the area, textiles and peaches. A Southern Railway caboose is also on display. The museum provides great freight action for railfans as it’s right by Norfolk Southern’s Crescent Line in addition to CSX Transportation’s former Clinchfield line and Belton Sub Division. It is open Wednesdays and Saturdays with free admission. Programs including presentations are offered by the CRHA as members.
Location: 298 Magnolia Street, Spartanburg
E-mail: Form on website
The Railroad Historical Center, Greenwood
As the largest railroad museum in Upstate South Carolina, The Railroad Historical Center, Greenwood offers a walk-through display of rolling stock including a 1906 2-8-2 steam engine, Pullman cars, and Piedmont & Northern cars. It is maintained and operated in partnership with The Museum in Greenwood, located four blocks north, which features a wide range of historical exhibits and educational programs. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The Railroad Historical Center is open Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., May through September with guide tours available for visitors. Special events are also provided throughout the year, it’s advised to check the Railroad Historical Center’s website for the full schedule and more information.
Location: 906 South Main Street, Greenwood