Saluda Train Tales - Third Friday of Month

March-December 2018, 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 16 - Harold Williams, 90 from Columbus, NC who will be the first speaker of Saluda Train Tales this year. Mr. Williams’ parents lived in Rockcliff, NC around 1913 and he will tell stories about the time his family lived in this railroad community nestled in a valley below a rock cliff between Highway 176 and Melrose, NC.  He will share stories from his parents who used the “local” (helper engine) to ride up and down the grade to Saluda to buy groceries. 

April 20 - 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. He will tell about the wrecks that occurred on the grade and what Southern Railway did to cut down on the cost both in dollars and in human injury and loss of life.

May 18 - Clark Thompson was born in Saluda and has authored many short stories about growing up in Saluda in Saluda Lifestyles. Now he will share stories orally of his adventures growing up in a small mountain town who depended on the railroad.

June 15 - Historic Saluda Committee, formed in 2010 organized to take the helms of preserving Saluda’s history and has become the collection point for all historical artifacts.  They have sponsored oral histories DVD’s, books, and musical DVD’s capturing the voices and history of Saluda. They will share their experiences and what they have learned.

July 20 - Frank Thompson is the author of 43 books, the most recent of which is "Asheville Movies Volume I: The Silent Era." It tells the story of the 50+ films made in Asheville between 1900 and 1929. One of them, "Across the Burning Trestle" was filmed in part in Saluda where a trestle was built in order to be burned for the film's climax. It was made in 1914. Frank will tell us all about how this was done.

August 17 - Medical Heritage in Saluda (Clara, Veevee Blackshear, Nettie Sweet).  These ladies will tell about the Baby Hospital and Lesene’s Smith’s Pediatric Seminar that operated in the Smith Hill section of Saluda and was known world-wide for its treatment for respiratory problems in children.

September 21 - OB Garren Stories. Without OB Garren taking photos of Saluda in the early 1900’s much of Saluda’s history would not have had the visual images that tell the story of Saluda’s people and buildings.  He also was a well-known builder and his granddaughter, Cindy Tuttle will share his life’s story with us.

October 19 - Laura Fields - Presents Rocks, Gems, and Minerals of the Saluda Mountains.

November 16 - Alex Salley, son of Dr. Dr. E M Salley who was one of the first medical doctors in Saluda will tell how his father served the railroad workers, the people in Saluda, and owned a real estate business all at the same time.

Past Saluda Train Tales

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.