The members of the Rotary Satellite Club of Tryon – Tryon Estates had the good fortune of receiving a highly intriguing presentation on the history of the Saluda Historic Depot and Museum by David O’Brien at it’s September 17th meeting. They learned that during the period of history when railroads were the king of ground transportation, a unique challenge was overcome, that of building a rail line through the daunting terrain of the Green River Gorge.
In 1878, brave men hammered steel rails up the steep and treacherous side of Melrose Mountain to a crest of 2,097, location of the current town of Saluda, North Carolina, thus fulfilling the vision of Captain Charles Parson. Utilizing a visionary’s solution he bypassed the old trading paths up the mountain and took the shortest distance between two points. After less than a year and overcoming a host of construction challenges, on July 4, 1878, the first passenger train of the Asheville and Spartanburg Railroad made it’s way up the Saluda Grade. Thus the steepest, standard gauge mainline railroad in the United States was open for business. Speaker David
O’Brien stated proudly that this highly valuable resource was operational through the ages of the steam and the diesel engines, rolling across the decades, until 2001. A taste of this unique period of railroad history may be encountered during a visit to the Saluda Historic Depot and Museum.
Submitted by Carolyn Dickenson