History of The Saluda Historic Depot and Museum
The small town of Saluda, North Carolina got its start as a railroad town on July 4, 1878 when the first train arrived in Saluda. The town was originally named Pace’s Gap and was a stopover for drover’s and trader’s on their way to western North Carolina or back down the mountain to points south. A family named Pace had built an inn in this location as a rest stop for the drover’s and trader’s.
The town was incorporated as Saluda in 1881, named for the group of mountains that surrounds the town. The original train depot sat on Main Street until a new one was built between 1900 and 1910. The depot sat about a quarter of a mile past the bridge on 176 to the west of Saluda. The depot was moved again in 1983 to its current location. The town of Saluda was able to preserve its architectural integrity when it was moved.
The Depot Museum is only open from Thursday through Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. and is staffed by knowledgeable volunteers. The outside of the Depot is painted yellow and some of the original paint for the Depot was found in a warehouse in Columbia, S.C. and was used when repainting the Depot.
I paid the Museum a visit early one afternoon and walking through the door was like stepping back in time 100 years. The interior is well preserved and they have a scale model train that is a model of the Saluda Grade, that starts at 1,081 feet of elevation at the bottom of the Melrose Mountain and crests at Saluda, 2,097 feet in elevation. This was and is the steepest mainline gauge railroad in the United States. The scale model also shows the location of where the depot was originally located as well as showing some of the other Saluda landmarks. The volunteer on duty was very knowledgeable about the history of the railroad in Saluda as well.
- Dan Gibbs, Sources: Saluda.com and historicsaluda.org