A History of Saluda
When Captain Charles Pearson, a former officer in the Confederate army, picked a route for the new railroad that went up Melrose Mountain rather than the more traditional route of Howard’s Gap, it put Saluda on the map. Saluda had been known as Pace’s Gap before the railroad and it had been a stopping point for drover’s and trader’s on their way to and from western North Carolina.
The first train made its way up Melrose Mountain and the Saluda Grade and stopped in what was to become Saluda for the first time on July 4, 1878. The town was christened as Saluda early in 1881. The railroad helped Saluda become a popular summer destination for tourists as they enjoyed the mild summer climate and as many as eight trains a day came through Saluda during the train’s heyday.
The trains have stopped coming through Saluda but Saluda still thrives because of its small town atmosphere. Saluda’s three-block Main Street has a combination of family-owned businesses that have been around for over 100 years, restaurants, and antique shops. Pace’s store has been around since 1899, Thompson’s store is the oldest grocery store in North Carolina, and Ward’s Grill is a great place to grab a hamburger.
Saluda is also famous for its festivals and first and foremost is the Coon Dog Day celebration that is held on the first Saturday after the Fourth of July. The Coon Dog Day comes complete with a parade, food, and a street dance to top it off. In May of every year many of the best regionals artists make their way to Saluda for the Saluda Arts Festival.
- Dan Gibbs