Saluda Train Tales - Third Friday of Month

March-December 2019, 7pm

Saluda Train Tales is a free monthly event to educate the community about the importance of Saluda's railroad history and the Saluda Grade. These events are held at the Saluda Historic Depot, 32 W Main Street, Saluda, NC 28773.

March 15 —Forrest Jarrett, retired law officer for almost 40 years with Southern and Norfolk Southern Railways also known as “Railroad Pistol Toter.”

April 19 —Bob Loehne, author and videographer, produced America’s Hometown Saluda and 611 and the Saluda Grade videos.

May 17 —Matt Bumgarner, professional engineer who published the latest history of the Saluda Grade in 2016.

June 21 —Bill Schafer, retired from Norfolk-Southern and co-founder of the Southern Railroad Historical Association (SHRA).

July 19 —Ray Rapp, curator of How the West Was Won:  Transformation of NC from Mars Hill.

University and currently serves as Chair of WNC Rail Committee, Inc.

August 16 —Lucas Safrit, historical interpreter/rail historian formerly with NC Transportation Museum at Historic Spencer Shops.

September 20 —Gerald Ledford, educator and author of the history of railroad logging in Western North Carolina.

October 18 - Larry Morton, president of the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club will fascinate his audience telling stories of what it took to take a train up and down the Saluda grade.

November 15 —Raymond “Bo” Brown, railroad collector and historian about Southern Railway Dining Car Service.

December 20 —Movie Night with Polar Express.

Past Saluda Train Tales

"Thunder on Saluda” - Bill Schafer, retired from Norfolk-Southern and co-founder of the Southern Railway Historical Association (SRHA) presents the last days of steam on Saluda grade and how the diesel changed everything."

“Pistol-Toter” Forrest Jarrett shared stories of his 37 years of being a law officer for Southern Railroad and Norfolk-Southern.

Nettie Sweet, VeeVee Blackshear, and Clara Carter share stories of the Infants and Children's Sanitarium and Baby Hospital started by their Grandparents, Dr. D. Lesesne Smith and wife, Nettie Smith in 1914. 


Frank Thompson, author and film historian shares his research about the silent film era in NC.

Larry Morton, President of Apple Valley Model Railroad Club, Hendersonville, NC tells the mishaps and adventures going up and down the Saluda Grade.

Raymond "Bo" Brown, writer and collector of Southern Railway dining experiences and artifacts presents the history of dining cars from the late 1800's to 1979.



Mike Lassiter and Scott Galloway presented "Our Vanishing Americana" through the book and PBS documentary.


Lucas Safrit, Historical Interpreter from the NC Transportation Museum describes the museum and all of the many different railroad locomotives and when they were built.

Bob Loehne, railroad enthusiasts and video producer of the "611 on the Saluda Grade" presents at the Saluda Tain Tales on March 17, 2017. Videographer by Bob Keeton.

View The September Saluda Train Tales with Rodger Stroup from the SC State Museum will present:  South Carolina's Railroad Heritage:  What's Gone, What's Still Here.


August Saluda Train Tales

August 19, 2016, 7pm - Saluda Inns, Hotels & Boarding Houses

View this presentation produced by Bob Keeton

Hotel Charles in Saluda

Hotel Charles in Saluda

The coming of the railroad to Saluda is why Saluda is existence today. After topping the grade, it would take another year before the tracks were laid to Hendersonville. Travelers from the low country of South Carolina, escaping from their marshy plantations to cooler and healthier elevations, would disembark in Saluda and travel by wagon or stages further north. This was enough time for a fledgling mercantile community to grow to accommodate these disembarking travelers and the families who worked on the railroad.

This was the start of Saluda’s tourist industry and the first hotel, The Mountain House, was established in 1879 by Colonel Andrew Tanner.  Colonel Tanner was the overseer of the chain gangs of convicts who worked the road and became Saluda’s first mayor in 1882.

At one time, there were as many as 37 inns, hotels, and boarding homes in Saluda.  At the Saluda Train Tales on August 19, 7pm, you will learn about these inns, who started them, and if and how they are still in use today.

Join Greaton Sellers, Martha Ashley, and Charlene Pace as they reveal the stories of the people who built these places to accommodate Saluda’s summer people and railroad workers.


View Videos of Previous Saluda Train Tales

One of the many stories about The Saluda Grade. This grade, which crests at Saluda, NC, is the steepest standard gauge railroad grade in the United States.
On September 18, 2015, a native of Asheville, Dr. Fred McConnel gave a presentation on the railroad history of the Saluda Grade at the Saluda Historic Depot. Dr. Fred McConnel has had a passion for the trains traveling through Western North Carolina since he was six years old.



Train Tales: Charles Hearon, Growing Up in Saluda - Sept. 2017

His grandfather designed the railway bridges in Cuba and his family had a presence in Saluda since the late 1800's. David Twiggs talked about his family's history at the Saluda Historic Depot.

At Train Tales (5/18/18), R. Clark Thompson recounted several stories about growing up in Saluda, NC. Some were taken from, "Whangdoodles on Diaper Hill: My Childhood in Saluda" (2018).

At Train Tales (5/18/18), R. Clark Thompson recounted several stories about growing up in Saluda, NC. Some were taken from, "Whangdoodles on Diaper Hill: My Childhood in Saluda", published in 2018 .

The Carburetors music and mapping from google earth offers an historical trip down what was the nation's steepest, Class-1, mainline railroad grade. It ran 3-miles from Saluda, NC to Melrose then Tryon, NC.