Background on the Historic Hendersonville Railroad Depot
The railroad came to Hendersonville in June of 1879. Thus started a century of passenger and freight trains coming through Hendersonville and during the heyday of the train, up to six passenger trains a day made their way through the town.
Southern Railway built the Hendersonville Railroad Depot in the early 1900’s as a station for the increased railway traffic. The original building was slightly less than 100 feet long, had two waiting rooms, an Agent’s office, a freight office, and indoor plumbing. By 1916 additions were made to the railroad depot to include an open pavilion that stretched all the way to Depot Street which is now Seventh Avenue.
The most famous train to come through Hendersonville was the Carolina Special. It was a train that ran from Cincinnati, OH to Charleston, SC via Asheville and generally took about 25 hours. The Carolina Special began on January 22, 1911 and ran for over 50 years until service was discontinued on December 5, 1968. At one point, the Carolina Special came through Hendersonville six times a day and grew to include a Pullman sleeping car, and observation car, and a dining car.
There were several other spurs that utilized the Hendersonville Railroad Depot including the route from Saluda to Hendersonville and from Hendersonville to Lake Toxaway that was used to transfer freight, passengers, and livestock throughout the mountain communities between Hendersonville and Lake Toxaway.
The railroad era came to an end as passenger trains quit coming to Hendersonville in the mid 1970’s and freight trains quit utilizing Hendersonville when the Ecusta plant closed in Brevard in 2002. Occasionally a freight train will come rumbling through Hendersonville but those trains are few and far between.
In 1992 the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club moved into the Historic Hendersonville Railroad Depot and restored it to its original glory. The members painted the depot to match its original color and the structure was shored up and other enhancements were made. In 2000, the building was registered as a historical landmark.
The Apple Valley Model Railroad Club has a HO model train layout in the depot that is really amazing in its detail and craftsmanship. I was told by one of the members that it is not to scale of all of the surrounding railroad towns but more of a representation of towns like Old Fort, Marion, and Morganton.
Several websites were used when writing this story. The Apple Valley Model Railroad Club has a great website, www.avmrc.com, and the website has a section on the history of the Historic Hendersonville Railroad Depot. Another website, etowahncheritage.org details the history of the Hendersonville to Lake Toxaway line and some great historical photographs.
The directions to the Historic Hendersonville Railroad Depot from the Old Homeplace Cottages and Cabins are turn right onto US-176W and go 4.3 miles and turn right onto South Grove Street, go 1.1 miles, and turn right onto Fifth Avenue East. Go 0.1 miles and turn left on Maple Street. The big yellow building on the right past the red caboose is the railroad depot.
– Dan Gibbs