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Norfolk Southern's 'Best Friend' visits stock exchange for opening bell ceremony

(Norfolk Southern issued the following news release on December 12.)

NEW YORK -- A replica of the first American-built steam locomotive is on display outside the New York Stock Exchange today as part of the opening bell festivities commemorating the 175th anniversary of Norfolk Southern Corporation.

The locomotive symbolizes the beginning of what would become the nation's leading freight railroad. Today's Norfolk Southern has an unbroken 16-year record of industry leadership in safety and is FORTUNE magazine's 2005 most admired railroad.

"Many companies come to the New York Stock Exchange to commemorate special events by ringing the opening bell. But very few can celebrate with as long a history as Norfolk Southern," said David R. Goode, who recently stepped down after 14 years as the company's CEO and president and who will retire as chairman early next year.

"At 175, the spirit of innovation is alive and kicking at Norfolk Southern," added President and CEO Wick Moorman. "By building on our thoroughbred heritage, we intend to deliver profitable growth and excellence in service well into the future."

Norfolk Southern traces its beginning to Christmas Day 1830, when its earliest predecessor launched the nation's first regularly scheduled passenger service in Charleston, S.C., on six miles of track laid by the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company. Dubbed the Best Friend of Charleston, the train carried 140 passengers "on the wings of the wind at the speed of 15 to 25 miles an hour, annihilating time and space, leaving all the world behind," according to a participant.

The original Best Friend was destroyed in a boiler explosion six months later. Yet that humble but hopeful beginning would set the stage for the rail network that 175 years later would span 21,300 miles across the eastern United States.

In 1928, a working full-scale replica of the locomotive, its tender and two passenger cars were built from original plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company. The replica carried passengers on special occasions throughout the Southern Railway and, later, the Norfolk Southern system.

The Best Friend replica was retired in 1993 and donated to the city of Charleston, now its permanent home. On loan from the city for the occasion, it was brought to New York as part of Norfolk Southern's 175th anniversary celebration. On its way back to Charleston, it will be displayed outside Norfolk Southern's headquarters in Norfolk, Va., on Dec. 15 and 16, in conjunction with the company's museum.

Norfolk Southern Corporation is one of the nation's premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates 21,300 route miles in 22 states, the District of Columbia and Ontario, Canada, serving every major container port in the eastern United States and providing superior connections to western rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is North America's largest rail carrier of automotive parts and finished vehicles.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

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